Ulster’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end as they went down 32-14 to an inform Ospreys side, who are now second in the RaboDirect Pro 12 table thanks to this win.
Six penalties from Dan Biggar were the foundations for the victory, which was made all the more impressive thanks to two second half penalties, one from Richard Fussell and the other a penalty try.
Despite turning in a mixed performance it was Ulster had made the early running opening the scoring with a try on three minutes.
Paddy Jackson, in for the injured Ian Humphreys, collecting a long pass from scrum-half Paul Marshall to go over the line. Jackson then converted his own try to put Ulster seven ahead.
The Ospreys had a chance get their points of the day almost immediately from the restart however Biggar’s penalty kick, awarded for not releasing at a ruck, hit the post and Ulster were managed to clear their line.
The missed penalty count was doubled when Jackson was also off target with his first penalty, an effort from the halfway line after the Ospreys scrum was penalised.
With 11 minutes on the clock Biggar finally got his and the Ospreys first score of the day when he converted a 35 metre penalty, awarded after the Ulster scrum was penalised for standing up after a strong push from the Ospreys pack.
That was the end of the scoring until the 26th minute when Biggar landed his second penalty of the afternoon and then another effort 5 minutes later put the Ospreys into a 9-7 lead.
Ulster’s penchant for giving away penalties was proving costly and they handed Biggar another chance to extend the on 34 minutes, with the 21 year old again making no mistake to give the Osprey’s a 12-7 half time lead.
The Ospreys stretched their lead further eight minutes after the restart when Biggar kicked his 5th penalty of the day after Ulster No8 Robbie Diack was sin-binned for not rolling away from a tackle right in front of his posts.
With the tails up The Ospreys were coming more and more into the game and the Welsh side went in search of that elusive try that their rugby deserved, it eventually arrived with 20 minutes to go when after a series of scrums on the Ulster five-metre line the Ospreys were awarded a penalty try to take them into a 22-7 lead.
Biggar kicked his 6th penalty of the day to stretch the lead further before a mix-up in the Ulster defence allowed Richard Fussell to go over for the Ospreys’ second try on 72 minutes and suddenly the home side were 25 points ahead.
Ulster managed to get into double figures for the day when they were awarded a penalty try of their own 3 minutes from time however it was too little too late, Ulster down to fourth while the Osprey’s move a point behind fellow unbeaten side Munster at the top of the table.
(15 – 9) B Davies; R Fussell, T Isaacs, A Bishop, H Dirkson; D Biggar, R Webb
(1 – 8) D Jones, R Hibbard, A Jarvis; I Gough, J Goode; T Smith, J Thomas, J Tipuric (c)
Replacements (16 – 23) M Davies, C Griffiths, J Rees, J King, J Bearman, M Morgan, S Parker, K Phillips
(15 – 9) J Payne; C Gilroy, N Spence, L Marshall, I Whitten; P Jackson, P Marshall
(1 – 8) D Fitzpatrick, A Kyriacou, J Cronin; L Stevenson, D Tuohy; P Wannenburg, C Henry (c), R Diack
Replacements (16 – 23) N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, T Barker, W Faloon, B McIlroy, J McKinney, A D’Arcy