Ospreys: Landmark for Dan Biggar as region go wild in Galway
Connacht 26 Ospreys 43
FOR more than 350 years Galway has been known as the city of the lost cause, but Dan Biggar will not hear a word said against the place.
Saturday night saw him chisel out his personal piece of history when he became the first Welshman to complete 1,000 points in the Pro 12.
By a quirk of fate, the Wales international bagged his first scores in the league at the same unglamorous venue, when he came off the bench back in May 2008 to land a penalty and a conversion.
In between, there has been relentless points-gathering from a player who is still only 23 yet seems to have been around forever.
He contributed 18 points against Connacht on Saturday evening, with his conversion of Jeff Hassler's try in the 71st minute taking him through the four-figure barrier.
Only Dan Parks had previously passed the milestone.
For Biggar to get there so quickly underlines what an asset the Ospreys have, someone who could conceivably have a decade left in the professional game, and his coach Steve Tandy went out of his way to acclaim him.
"It's incredible that someone so young has achieved what he has in this competition," said Tandy.
"But it's no less than he deserves. He is the complete professional in everything he does, hard-working, diligent and an example for others to follow. I've gone on record many times to say how highly I rate him. Not only has he always been fantastic for the region, he is also proud to play for his local team.
"I'm thrilled that people are starting to acknowledge what he is about."
Biggar wasn't just about goal-kicking, either, at The Sportsground.
He also kicked well out of hand, orchestrated a number of dangerous attacking ploys and scored the first try after intercepting a pass from Craig Ronaldson.
Connacht showed spirit to twice battle back to within three points of the visitors in the second half.
But the Ospreys possessed the ability to up the tempo on demand and were able to win with something to spare.
They have learned from being left on the blocks last season and have made a determined effort to hit their stride quickly, claiming six tries in back-to-back games for the first time in their history.
Edinburgh had their line crossed half-a-dozen times in Swansea the weekend before. And Connacht went the same way.
It took the Ospreys until the spring to secure two bonus points last term and it was the same the campaign before.
But this time they have managed it before leaves have fallen from some trees.
They weren't blemish-free in the west of Ireland, with their line-out experiencing the odd glitch and indiscipline seeing them finishing on the wrong end of a 12-3 penalty count.
There were also uncharacteristic defensive lapses.
But a 6-2 try count tells a story, with Tandy's side packing too much power. pace and fitness for Irish rugby's weakest province.
At the heart of everything was the official man of the match, Tito Tebaldi, who flourished behind a dominant pack and crowned his display with a superb solo try that saw him dummy his way past several defenders.
Justin Tipuric also stood out, achieving turnovers, tackling well, showing sleight of hand in attack and constantly staying involved. The Lion's quality is undoubted, but he would have been looking for a good display after Sam Lewis set the openside bar high in the opening three games.
Good players always respond to competition, and Tipuric is a good player.
For all that, Tandy wasn't completely satisfied, with the coach lamenting how frequently his side had incurred the wrath of Scottish referee Andrew McMenemy.
Connacht were also able to score two tries — not the end of the world when a shedful were run in at the other end, but in previous seasons the Ospreys have made it a badge of honour not to concede easily.
Rock-solid defence has been at the core of their identity.
Hence Tandy's view there can still be improvements.
"It's a big achievement to run in six tries in a game whoever you are playing, so obviously I'm very pleased at what we've done here tonight," he said afterwards. Our attacking game over the last couple of weeks has been very good. We're heading in the right direction in that aspect of the game and it's pleasing as a coach to see the team making strides in that area.
"Other areas of our game are letting us down, though. There is lots of work to be done on our discipline and our defence. It's not quite clicking and at times against Connacht we were a bit vulnerable. When you fall short in those areas you allow teams to stay in the game longer then they deserve and I think that was the case out there.
"But, still, scoring six tries away from home is an excellent achievement."
Parks was on the pitch when Biggar's big moment came in the final quarter.
The former Scotland international had fired over two conversions himself as Connacht clawed their way back for a second time, trailing 29-26 and sensing an upset.
But a turnover allowed Tebaldi to trigger a move that ended with Hassler crossing, and then Richard Hibbard did the spadework for Alun Wyn Jones to score.
Six tries away from home adds up to a solid evening's work in anyone's book, putting the Ospreys level on points with leaders Glasgow, who have to face the Scarlets in Llanelli this weekend.
Tougher tests await, with Ulster in Swansea on Friday and Leinster rolling up for a Heineken Cup date a week on Saturday. But if the Ospreys play to potential they should feel confident about their prospects.
The table doesn't lie. Tandy's side have started the season well.