Match verdict: Late drama denies Leicester Tigers a famous win at Ospreys
A late Ospreys try ruined Leicester Tigers' hopes of a famous Heineken Cup victory at the Liberty Stadium.
But Jonathan Spratt's 76th-minute score could only bring the Welsh side level, and Dan Biggar's missed conversion kept the scores at 15-15 in a thrilling finish.
The result sets up a Pool Two winner-takes-all game for Leicester against French giants Toulouse on Sunday at what will be a sold-out Welford Road.
Going into the closing stages 15-10 ahead was more than Tigers might have expected as they trailed 10-0 with a minute to go in the first half.
****Best Deals**** Van Insurance for 17-24 Yr Old Drivers - Contact Insure365 on 01782 898188 for a quotation, Free Legal Protection Included Valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Tuesday, June 25 2013
The Ospreys were completely on top, and unforced errors ruined any hopes of Tigers getting a foothold in the game.
But they fought back tremendously well in the final quarter and, when Ben Youngs and Niall Morris both went over on 67 and 73 minutes to put Leicester ahead, it looked like they might pull off an unlikely victory until Spratt's late score.
Tigers began positively and went through a dozen phases before being pinged for holding on.
After Tom Youngs had overthrown his line-out jumper in Ospreys' territory, another Leicester move broke down as Joe Bearman hacked forward and Mat Tait had to scamper back and clear the danger.
Argentine prop Marcos Ayerza was then penalised for not binding at the first scrum, but Biggar hit the post with the penalty.
Tigers felt the wrath of Irish referee John Lacey twice more in quick succession, but Biggar missed both his kicks to keep it scoreless after the opening quarter of the game.
Leicester looked like they would open the scoring when good hands by Toby Flood and Tait set Adam Thompstone free, but he was dragged down 10 metres shy and Tigers were penalised for another ruck offence.
Tigers' ability to blow point-scoring opportunities in the opposition's 22 has been an Achilles heel all season and they were made to pay again at the Liberty Stadium.
Biggar finally nailed a penalty kick on 28 minutes to open the scoring and then the home side established the exact same 10-0 lead they had at Welford Road with a 32nd-minute try.
Morris' up-and-under bounced on halfway and nicely into the hands of Ospreys skipper Kahn Fotuali'i, who fed Bearman.
The No.8 skipped past some suspect tackling to dive over and Biggar landed the extras.
Leicester finally got on the board in the last minute of the half with a Flood penalty to make it 10-3 at the whistle.
Tigers began to show more urgency in the second period as Ben Youngs made ground from a good tap-and-go but passed straight to Biggar, who cleared.
Leicester's frustrations continued as Flood then missed touch as he went to the corner, and Manu Tuilagi was isolated and penalised for holding on.
Unforced errors were killing the visitors in a tight game but they began to get more of the ball as the Ospreys showed signs of nerves nearing the hour-mark.
Thompstone became the latest Tiger to hand possession back to the home side with a dreadful kick after taking a mark, but Tigers soon got back on the front foot and levelled the scores.
Tait and Thompstone linked up well again and quick ball put Flood through a hole and up to the Ospreys line, and Ben Youngs picked up the ball and dived over.
Flood's extras made it 10-10 with just 13 minutes to go and, when Morris dived over in the corner after Thompstone had made an initial break to make it 15-10, Flood's missed conversion did not seem to matter as a remarkable turnaround looked complete.
But, from the kick-off, Ben Youngs' box-kick saw Eli Walker launch a spectacular counter-attack, which ended with substitute Spratt diving over in the corner.
Biggar crucially missed his fifth kick of the day though, and the game finished all-square to end the Ospreys' campaign and set-up a mouth-watering clash with Toulouse at Welford Road on Sunday.