The Ospreys ended their PRO14 drought with victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade as the last rugby match of 2017 in the UK dribbled to a lacklustre conclusion.
Hooker Scott Baldwin and wing Cory Allen scored the Ospreys tries in the first half, with fly-half Dan Biggar kicking a penalty and conversion against three penalties by home stand-off Arwel Robson.
Dragons’ Aaron Wainwright on the attack against the Ospreys. Picture: Inpho
And a second-half touchdown from replacement Sam Davies, that Biggar also converted, gave the West Walians the chance to get a fourth try and bonus point, but it failed to materialise.
The Ospreys made a blistering start as they looked to end a run of four consecutive PRO14 defeats, with their last victory coming at home, against the Dragons on October 27.
The home side, who were aiming to avenge the 22-17 home defeat to arch rivals Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day, were at sixes and sevens as the Ospreys ran amok.
Baldwin had a simple chance to touch down as the Dragons pack disintegrated five metres from their own line from an attacking line-out, with Biggar converting well from the touchline.
Robson landed a 30-metre penalty to reduce the deficit but a piece of brilliance by fly-half Biggar in chasing a kick down field saw the Welsh star reclaim the ball, and race to within five metres of the line before laying an inside pass for Allen to score an easy try.
The home stand-off added another three points but it was scant relief as the Ospreys piled on the pressure again, going close several times before Biggar booted a straight-forward penalty when Dragons centre Jack Dixon was yellow carded for killing the ball at a ruck.
Yet, as much as the Ospreys dominated territory, they were their own worst enemies. A penalty for dropping a scrum allowed Robson to bang over his third penalty, this time from 40 metres.
And, under considerable pressure, the Dragons’ 14 men held firm as the teams went into the interval with the visitors leading 15-9.
The Dragons came out fighting but the Ospreys scored again.
They attacked in the Dragons 22 for a long pass from a ruck in midfield to find Davies. He latched onto it and had a simple job of executing the try from five metres, which Biggar again converted superbly from the touchline.
Too many handling errors from both sides meant the match became laboured as the pattern returned of Ospreys pressure in the home half and staunch Dragons defence to counter it.
The sides played out a stalemate in the final minutes as the Ospreys won by 13 points and were set for a more satisfying New Year’s Eve celebration than their opponents.