Ospreys 17-13 Edinburgh: George North brace sinks capital side

Edinburgh centre Mark Bennett looks to find a way past Owen Watkin (No 12) at the Liberty Stadium. Picture: Alex Davidson/INPHO/REX/Shutterstock
Edinburgh centre Mark Bennett looks to find a way past Owen Watkin (No 12) at the Liberty Stadium. Picture: Alex Davidson/INPHO/REX/Shutterstock
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The North wind put paid to Edinburgh’s hopes of a first win over Ospreys in Swansea since 2009, Wales and Lions wing George North getting two tries for his new side.

North showed his strength and sidestep for the first from close range, but then demonstrated his raw speed for the second, racing down the right wing after an Edinburgh attack broke down.

Edinburgh came away with a losing bonus point, and could even have snatched victory in a frantic finale which saw full-back Blair Kinghorn go over and the Scottish side earn more pressure on the home try line.

So the game may have ended in defeat, but there were plenty of positives for Richard Cockerill’s side in some of the individual performances as well as the team effort.

The Ospreys have recruited well this season, so not many teams will come so close to a win in Swansea.

Edinburgh will improve – indeed they got better in the second half – while the new recruits started well and will only get better with time.

With the phoney war of the pre-season friendlies over, both sides were close to full strength – a rarity in the first game of the season in these days of summer tours and rest periods. Edinburgh have been tipped by many commentators as possible dark horses
to challenge for a play-off spot this season, building on the progress last season under head coach Cockerill.

The new-look Ospreys nearly got their reward in the third minute with Wales centre Scott Williams, who moved the short distance from the Scarlets in the summer, putting a kick through for full-back Dan Evans who was denied a try by Edinburgh scrum-half Henry Pyrgos.

Edinburgh were certainly under pressure in the opening exchanges, thanks in no small part to the fact they regularly earned the displeasure of Irish referee John Lacey to make the penalty count very one-sided. Given the number of penalties on offer it was 
perhaps surprising it took half an hour before anyone scored any points at all.

Edinburgh outside half Simon Hickey, the former New Zealand Under-20s star recruited from Bordeaux Begles in the summer, was the first to strike, landing a kick from 40 yards.

Opposite number Luke Price had missed an early effort, but made no mistake two 
minutes later when offered a second chance from 35 metres.

He had to leave the field shortly after that with a knee injury, replaced by Sam Davies who most had expected to slot into the position of Wales 10 Dan Biggar who moved to Northampton in the summer. Davies had a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time, which fell just short so it was 3-3 at the break and plenty of material for both coaches to get stuck into.

Edinburgh were more direct after the break and started to dominate territory, giving away a penalty under the Ospreys posts before working their way back to the home line and earning a penalty of their own which was a straightforward kick for 
Hickey.

The Ospreys bounced back, first through a piece of luck and then a touch of class. Scott Williams kicked the ball through where Kinghorn comfortably kicked the ball out – as he thought to end the danger.

Unfortunately the ball bounced off the advertising hoardings straight into the arms of opposite number Evans who took a quick lineout to Sam Davies who lost the ball on the line.

The Ospreys stayed on the attack and spread the ball to the other wing where Evans was again the creator, delaying his pass to give North 
half a yard and the Lion did 
the rest to go over for the opening try. Sam Davies converted.

North then ran in from 60 metres for a second converted score but Edinburgh looked anything but down and out and launched another series of attacks, this time getting their first try through Kinghorn over on the left, converted by Jaco van der Walt.

They still had time to snatch a win, but conceding a scrum on the Ospreys line allowed the home team to escape with a victory by a narrow margin.