Ospreys full-back Dan Evans received one of the quickest red cards in professional rugby union history as his team lost 40-19 against Heineken Champions Cup opponents Racing 92.
Evans was sent off by referee Frank Murphy after just 37 seconds at the Liberty Stadium when his boot made contact with Racing wing Teddy Thomas’ head as he claimed a high ball.
First-half yellow cards for Scott Williams and Aled Davies – and Wales centre Owen Watkin limping off – compounded Ospreys’ misery as they suffered a third successive Champions Cup loss this season.
European title contenders Racing – beaten finalists in 2016 and 2018 – did not require a second invitation to capitalise as Thomas’ try double, a penalty try and touchdown for hooker Teddy Baubigny secured a bonus point before half-time.
— Smallclone (@Smallclone_) December 7, 2019
Davies, wing Hanno Dirksen and prop Ma’afu Fia claimed tries for the battling Ospreys, with fly-half Marty McKenzie adding two conversions, but Racing managed further scores for Yoan Tanga and captain Henry Chavancy, and Maxime Machenaud, who was sin-binned four minutes from time, kicked four conversions.
Racing’s victory keeps them firmly on course for the quarter-finals in a punishing group that also includes Champions Cup holders Saracens and twice European champions Munster.
The Ospreys, with just one win from nine starts in all competitions this season, played their first game since head coach Allen Clarke was relieved of his duties.
Wales’ 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning coach Mike Ruddock has joined Ospreys on a month-long consultancy basis, but the Pool Four strugglers faced a huge task against heavyweight opponents.
The Ospreys included Wales World Cup squad members Watkin, Davies, Nicky Smith and Adam Beard, yet star-studded Racing had an imposing look about them and started as firm favourites.
And Racing immediately gained a one-man advantage as Evans was dismissed, with Murphy brandishing a red card after consulting television replays.
A yellow card quickly followed for Racing wing Juan Imhoff following a deliberate knock-on, and Ospreys struck from their next attack as Dirksen touched down and McKenzie kicked a touchline conversion.
Thomas rejoined the action after a head injury assessment, but Racing appeared more rattled than their hosts, dropping passes and lacking composure, despite full-back Simon Zebo’s exemplary attacking efforts.
The Ospreys then suffered an injury blow when Watkin departed after 17 minutes, before Williams was sin-binned for a technical infringement and Racing punished their 13-man opponents by driving a lineout and Baubigny touched down.
Machenaud converted to level the contest, ending a breathless opening quarter when the Ospreys gave as good as they got in adversity.
But the tide quickly turned, with Thomas scoring a try in the corner and Machenaud converting, before Ospreys were briefly reduced to 12 men, with Murphy yellow-carding Davies for a deliberate knock-on and awarding Racing a penalty try.
Williams returned, but only in time to see Thomas claim his second touchdown that Machenaud converted, meaning that Racing had claimed four tries in 11 minutes and secured a bonus point.
The second period was a damage-limitation exercise for Ospreys, but Racing claimed their fifth try when substitute forward Tanga powered over, although Fia’s well-worked score and Davies’ smart effort gave the home fans something to cheer.
Chavancy’s try then put the gloss on Racing’s display, though, leaving Ospreys to ponder a first-half when just about everything unravelled.
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