at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. The Ospreys inflicted a shock 24-16 defeat over Australia on a remarkable opening night of their European Tour. Ospreys wing Richard Mustoe picked off Mark Gerrard's pass to scorch over from 40 metres out four minutes from time and seal a memorable night for the Welsh region. The game was already slipping from Australia's grasp after Shaun Connor had stroked over a drop goal moments earlier but the try condemned the tourists to a moral-sapping defeat ahead of Saturday's Test match against Wales. Adam Ashley-Cooper looked to have got Australia on their way with a try, converted by Cameron Shepherd, for a 10-3 lead inside 20 minutes, but an error ridden display prevented John Connolly's side from building on their early advantage.
Australia A fielded both uncapped players within the tour party but that didn't detract from their box office appeal with a record 20,520 crowd packed into the Liberty Stadium for the first game between a Welsh region and touring nation.
However, Australia's European tour got off to the worst possible start when their highly rated lock Hugh McMeniman left the field on a stretcher after just quarter of an hour. Play was stopped for several minutes after the Queensland Reds second row, making his return from shoulder reconstruction surgery, landed heavily at a lineout. To make maters worse, it was his 23rd birthday and moments later, Australia were trailing to Connor's penalty.
However, it took the second string Wallabies, included 13 capped players, less than four minutes to respond when fullback Shepherd equalised with the boot before creating the game's opening try for Ashley-Cooper.
Australia stole possession in midfield and Shepherd made the overlap count, bumping off Tal Selley's tackle before delivering the scoring pass for centre Ashley-Cooper to ease his way over.
Australia dominated the scrums but if they thought they would have the opening game of the tour all their own way, then they were soon made to think again as the Ospreys levelled the scores before half-time through veteran hooker Barry Williams.
A mix-up out wide between Shepherd and Scott Staniforth sparked a lightning attack from deep by the Ospreys that culminated with Williams being shoved over the line by the rest of his pack after James Horwill had been shown the yellow card for an infringement at the ruck.
That set the tone for the start of the second half that saw both teams reduced to 14 men seconds after Horwill returned. Australia prop Guy Shepherdson was sent to the sin bin for stamping on 47 minutes. Four minutes later and Ospreys' Kiwi No.8 Filo Tiatia followed, for lying on the ball having just received treatment for a head wound.
Both kickers missed shots at goal as the deadlock held until the 51st minute when Shepherd again gave Australia the lead, but that was cancelled out by Connor who added two penalties and a drop goal before Mustoe struck late on.
Ospreys: S Terblanche; R Mustoe, S Parker, T Selley (A Bishop, 75), J Vaughton (N Walker, 65); S Connor, J Spice (M Roberts, 79); P James (capt), B Williams (H Bennett, 58), A Millward (C Griffiths, 58), M Powell, L Bateman, L Beach (A Lloyd, 58), F Tiatia, R Pugh
Tries B Williams, R Mustoe
Con S Connor
Pens S Connor (3)
Drop G S Connor
Australia A: C Shepherd; S Staniforth, A Ashley-Cooper, G Fairbanks, M Turinui; M Gerrard, B Sheehan (J Valentine, 26-39); N Henderson, T Polta-Nau (S More, H-T), G Shepherdson, A Campbell, J Horwill, H McMeniman (M Chisholm, 10), D Lyons (B Robinson, 49-60, S Hoiles, 73), G Smith (capt)
Try A Ashley-Cooper
Con C Shepherd
Pens C Shepherd (3)
Referee: Andrew Small (RFU)