Ospreys 41 Benetton Treviso 10
The Ospreys ran in five tries at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night to secure their first winning bonus point of the PRO12 campaign, allowing them to move back into the play-off spots after last night's results saw them temporarily drop to fifth.
On an evening that saw the region play some great stuff, Ashley Beck grabbed himself a pair and forwards Paul James and Joe Bearman grabbed one apiece, before replacement Tom Isaacs rounded off the win with a touchdown from a great team effort late on. Dan Biggar enjoyed a perfect evening with the boot, kicking 16 points, as well as proving an influential figure around the field.
In a lively opening Hanno Dirksen, Biggar and Shane Williams all had early chances to stretch their legs as the Ospreys looked to play an expansive open game, but the first points of the night came from the boot of Biggar, a straightforward penalty from in front of the posts after a Treviso offside 10 minutes in.
Treviso hit straight back with a Kris Burton penalty inside two minutes following a similar offside offence.
It was an entertaining affair between two teams intent on keeping the ball alive, and it was the Ospreys who grabbed the opening try through centre Beck. Biggar was the architect, launching a huge up and under from his own 10m line before soaring above his opposite number Alberto Di Bernardo to collect in some style. His quick offload saw the ball moved wide to Dirksen, and with a 3 on 1 in the Ospreys favour, the wing who is celebrating his 21st birthday today slipped in an inside pass to Beck who cantered over to score, Biggar converting.
A powerful drive from Ryan Jones, working his way towards the Treviso 22, eventually led to a penalty against Michele Rizzo for not releasing, allowing Biggar to stretch the lead.
The TMO Tony Rowlands was then called into action after a barnstorming run by Adam Jones following quick lineout ball, the tighthead charging towards the line after he wasn’t held in the tackle, and just as the Liberty Stadium crowd thought that he was in for a rare try he slipped to fellow prop Paul James who, the TMO confirmed, managed to ground the ball despite great defensive work by Alberto Sgarbi. Biggar’s conversion took the score to 20-3 just before the half hour mark.
A quickly taken penalty after Burton was pinged for not releasing the ball after he found himself isolated in midfield saw the Ospreys spread it wide at speed, and a Dirksen charge towards the line was halted inches short, scrum-half Edoardo Gori hauling him down.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 20 BENETTON TREVISO 3
The Italians would have been looking to start the second half with a bang, and hoping to get the next score to keep them in the game, but it was the Ospreys who were celebrating just two minutes as Beck grabbed his second try of the night.
It stemmed from a Treviso turnover deep in the Ospreys half, which allowed the hosts to move the ball quickly to Williams, the veteran wing chipping over the Italians defence as he looked for the line. Burton was able to cover, but as Treviso tried to work it out from in front of their own posts, Ospreys pressure forced another turnover, Biggar doing good work at the breakdown. Once again, the ball was moved through the hands, Andrew Bishop and Williams combining to free Beck, who ignored Alun Wyn Jones on his outside to step back infield, losing the two covering defenders, to go over for the try.
The ever-reliable Biggar added the extras, stretching the lead to 24 points.
The Ospreys were dominant and were looking for the fourth try and a first winning bonus point of the season, but with 55 minutes on the clock they were served a reminder that it wasn’t won yet as Treviso grabbed a stunning length of the field try. The hosts were pressing inside the opposition 22 when they lost possession, Gori stealing the loosing ball and launching himself on a 50m run, evading several tackles. He had support on his shoulder, and eventually it was worked to the wing where Ludovico Nitoglia was waiting, stepping infield to score. Alberto Di Bernardo’s conversion moved the scoreboard to 27-10.
Buoyed by their score, Treviso kept up the pressure and were enjoying their best spell of the game, keeping the Ospreys pinned inside their 22. The Ospreys eight had been dominant at the scrum all game, but for the first time, with 63 minutes on the clock, a series of decisions were going against the hosts, Treviso sniffing something and repeatedly opting to reset.
However, on the fourth occasion, an enormous Ospreys push saw the Treviso scrum buckle and Biggar was able to clear the lines.
What had been an entertaining, flowing game was starting to become broken up, with a number of interruptions, suiting the opponents, but a wonderful turnover by Joe Bearman allowed the Ospreys to get back upfield and turn the screw once more, Biggar’s chase of Dirksen’s clearing kick winning a penalty. From the resulting lineout the Ospreys inched their way towards the line, and as Williams looked to supply Dirksen with the scoring pass, the ball was knocked down by Treviso’s Tommaso Benvenuti, a deliberate knock-on that saw him sent to the sidelines for the final 10 minutes.
At the penalty, the Ospreys opted for a scrum, and they were unstoppable as they rumbled over the line, Joe Bearman dotting down for the try, Biggar converting.
It got better just minutes later, Beck and Williams combining with quick hands and equally quick feet, before releasing Tom Isaacs on halfway. He has a lot still to do, but his footwork bamboozled the defender and he raced away to score in the corner, Biggar again successful with the kick.
With time almost up, the Ospreys were still looking to score again, almost grabbing another pushover try as they rumbled over the line only for the ball to squirm out at the last moment, and another exciting length of the pitch break ending with Williams bundled out of play a metre short, but nevertheless, it was a hugely positive evening for the region, with a crowd of more than 7,500 enjoying the win.