Old foes brew up a real classic
IF Steve Tandy treated himself to a pint of Guinness after the Pro12 encounter in Dublin on Saturday night, at some point he might have looked at his glass and wondered whether it was half full or half empty.
Certainly it was a night of mixed feelings for the Ospreys' head coach.
He had seen his side battle back from ten points down to lead by seven with a man advantage deep into the final quarter.
But Leinster made light of the absence of the yellow-carded Sean Cronin to score 10 unanswered points while the hooker was off the field, regaining the lead at 29-26 with four minutes to play.
At that point, to adapt a line from the late, great Sid Waddell, Tandy probably felt about as happy as a penguin in a microwave.
But a side that has a kicker as good as Dan Biggar will always have a chance, and sure enough the fly-half secured the Ospreys the draw their tenacity deserved by holding his nerve to slot an injury-time penalty.
The assumption has to be, though, that the first lesson in training this week will be a refresher on how a game should be put to bed, no doubt involving reminders about the importance of focusing on the basics of retaining possession and maintaining discipline and concentration with victory there to be taken deep in the final quarter.
Still, Biggar's unerring ability with the boot ensured there wasn't a more significant price to be paid.
No-one could really argue that Tandy's side were not worth a share of the spoils.
However much they will lament the failure to hold a lead late on, they had earlier shown immense character to stick with a Leinster side that played with typical swagger.
The Dubliners scored two tries in the first 13 minutes, feeding off the momentum of the five touchdowns they had notched up in Llanelli a week earlier.
When they are in that kind of mood, the Irish side are capable of blowing away all but the most durable opponents.
Credit the Ospreys, then, for refusing to wilt. They may still be working their way into form, but there is a resolve about them that allows them to weather tough periods during games, in the way that a boxer might be able to absorb heavy punches before regrouping and countering with weighty shots of his own.
That isn't just down to physical conditioning. It is also down to mental toughness.
Biggar's boot is handy to have as well. Really, it would have been particularly cruel on the Wales international to have finished a loser here, with the 23-year-old having nailed seven out of seven shots at goal, some of them from tight on the touchline.
Leinster fans must dread to see his name on the team-sheet.
Indeed, those of them who take an interest in military matters probably shrugged on hearing that India had developed a new missile that could travel more than 3,000 miles and lock on to its target with pinpoint accuracy.
What's the big deal, they might feel, when one of their rivals has been blessed with a similarly lethal component for several years?
For Biggar is already within striking distance of collecting 100 points against the boys in blue over his career. He also seems to reserve his finest work with the boot for the RDS.
As fate would have it, the former drama student usually finds himself with a late, late kick in Dublin, and more often than not he slots it.
There was a lot more to enjoy about Saturday night than just goal-kicking, however, with the match proving an impressive advert for the Pro12.
The competition deservedly attracts flak and, sure enough, of the ten Lions from both sides who toured Australia earlier this summer, only one started.
But the Ospreys did send on Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard to join Ian Evans and embellish an entertaining game that ebbed and flowed and crackled with commitment.
Leinster's two early tries were counter-attacking specials laced with quality, especially the second by Dave Kearney, with the full-back displaying a turn of pace that did justice to the sharp vision and passing that had marked the build-up.
And if the Ospreys had struggled to create before the break, they showed in the second half they weren't all steak and no sizzle. Their second try was particularly memorable, involving backs and forwards handling at speed down the left before Eli Walker threw a pass inside for Ashley Back to dive over.
Walker lived two lives in the space of 80 minutes, quiet in the first half but ultra-dangerous after the break. He had created the platform for his team's first touchdown with a surge of pace that terrified the Leinster defence — Biggar's clever pass sending Joe Bearman across for the score.
Both sides refused to stay down, showing the kind of resilience that has helped establish them among the league's most successful sides.
Leinster's comeback with depleted numbers certainly demonstrated the spirit of a champion club.
But the Ospreys lack nothing in the defiance stakes themselves.
A win over Edinburgh in Swansea on Saturday night would leave them unbeaten after three games — the opposite of where they were exactly a year ago.
Should that happen, the question of half full or half empty won't be an issue. Tandy's glass will be spilling over.