Jack Walsh played in the pre-season game against Northampton before making his competitive debut against Scarlets
Jack Walsh played in the pre-season game against Northampton before making his competitive debut against Scarlets
Scarlets (6) 23
Tries: J Williams, Costelow Cons: Costelow 2 Pens: Costelow 3
Ospreys (13) 23
Tries: Anscombe, R Davies Cons: Anscombe, Walsh Pens: Anscombe 3

Jack Walsh kicked a last-minute conversion on his debut to rescue a 23-23 draw for Ospreys at Scarlets in their United Rugby Championship opener.

After Gareth Anscombe had inspired Ospreys to 13-3 and 16-9 leads, Sam Costelow sparked a Scarlets revival.

The fly-half and Johnny Williams scored second-half tries to take Scarlets to the brink of victory.

But replacement Walsh stepped up to convert Rhys Davies’ try with the last kick of the game.

It was an impressive display from the three fly-halves, with Anscombe and player-of-the-match Costelow finishing with 16 and 18 points respectively and Walsh showing his composure following his summer mover from Exeter.

Sam Costelow
Sam Costelow scored a try, two conversions and three penalties and received a yellow card against Ospreys

Captain comeback

Toby Booth’s Ospreys side had welcomed back captain Justin Tipuric for his first competitive start in 15 months after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Ospreys had seven of their 11 Wales summer tourists in the squad: Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard, George North, Anscombe, Tomas Francis and Owain Watkin started, Dewi Lake was on the bench, with Gareth Thomas, Dan Lydiate, Alex Cuthbert and Sam Parry missing.

Scarlets had Gareth Davies, Johnny Williams and Ryan Elias starting, with Wyn Jones, Harri O’Connor and Kieran Hardy on the replacements bench, while New Zealand lock Vaea Fifita made his competitive debut following his arrival from Wasps.

There was a minute silence to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II and applause to mark the passing of rugby broadcasting great Eddie Butler, and playing legends Phil Bennett and Ken Jones.

Anscombe opened the scoring after good work from centre Owen Watkin and wing Keelan Giles.

The Ospreys fly-half added the conversion and slotted two penalties, with Costelow kicking a successful three points for Scarlets before he was yellow-carded for an illegal clear-out on Tipuric.

Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe scored a try, a conversion and three penalties against Scarlets

The Ospreys captain was at the centre of controversy following his late challenge on Scarlets full-back Johnny McNicholl on the stroke of half-time.

Referee Adam Jones decided it was only a penalty rather than a yellow card, with Costelow nudging over his second kick as Scarlets trailed 13-6 at half-time.

McNicholl could not continue following the incident after he failed a head injury assessment and was replaced by Corey Baldwin.

Costelow and Anscombe exchanged penalties before Giles was shown a yellow card for what was deemed by the officials as a deliberate knock-on.

Scarlets immediately took advantage with an excellent individual try from centre Williams, with Costelow converting to level the scores.

Williams produced a second superb burst before being expertly stopped by Michael Collins, but it was in vain after the home side were penalised for obstruction.

With Scarlets in the ascendency, Costelow sprinted away to score a converted try – which stood after Fifita’s tackle on Watkin was adjudged to be legal – and Scarlets opened up a seven-point lead.

Ospreys rallied as they searched for a draw and Scarlets number eight Sione Kalamafoni was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the final minute.

Scarlets had a chance to go two scores clear but turned down a kickable attempt to opt for an attacking lineout and Ospreys’ desperate defence repelled the hosts.

And in a dramatic finale, replacement lock Davies was driven over before Walsh’s nerveless conversion ensured the west Wales derby finished in a draw.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel: “The boys are desperately disappointed in the changing-room. We were poor in the first half, we were off the pace and coughed up the ball.

“To go in 13-6 down at half-time, we felt we had not played any rugby. In the second half we were pretty dominant and when we lifted the tempo of the game, we looked good.

“The disappointing thing is when we were 23-16 up and camped in their 22 we did not come away with anything,

“We had three moments in those final three minutes which cost us.”

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth: “I have mixed feelings. There is a lot of pride in that. The final defensive set was a great reflection on the group and character.

“From that, to muscle our way up the field to 80 metres to score and give us the chance of the draw, which Jack (Walsh) took, is a massive credit to the players and their efforts.

“What we need to look at is when in the first half, when I felt we were in control, how we then went to 30 minutes when we weren’t.”

Scarlets: McNicholl; T Rogers, J Davies (capt), J Williams, Conbeer; Costelow, G Davies; S Thomas, Elias, Sebastian, Fifita, Lousi, Thomson, Lezana, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: D Hughes, W Jones, H O’Connor, T Price, Macleod, Hardy, D Jones, C Baldwin.

Ospreys: Collins; North, Watkin, Hawkins, Giles; Anscombe, Webb; Smith, Baldwin, Francis, Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, J Morgan, Tipuric (capt), M Morris.

Replacements: Lake, G Phillips, Botha, R Davies, W Griffiths, Morgan-Williams, Walsh, Nagy.

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU).

Assistant referees: Simon Rees & Wayne Davies (WRU).

TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU).

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