The Ospreys ran in six tries as they recorded a thumping win over Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night, moving them up to second in the PRO12 table.
There was a brace each for Eli Walker and Richard Hibbard, while Canadian winger Jeff Hassler scored inside three minutes on his first competitive start for the region before Matthew Morgan touched down in closing stages.
The home team made the perfect start, applying pressure on Edinburgh from the first whistle before grabbing the opening try inside 150 seconds.
It was a score made by the forwards but finished by the backs, an Ospreys driving maul from a lineout on the 22 rumbling forward to within inches of the Edinburgh line before being halted. Tito Tebaldi got the ball moving quickly, popping it up to Hassler, running a great support line on the Italian’s schoulder, and there was no stopping the winger from close range as he crashed through three defenders to score his first PRO12 try.
Biggar duly added the conversion to open up an early seven-point lead.
There was a scare for the Ospreys when Sam Lewis stayed down following a collision in midfield but, thankfully, the openside was able to continue after lengthy treatment, the scrum-capped replacement Justin Tipuric able to sit back down again as Lewis returned to the action.
With the Ospreys enjoying the upper hand at the setpiece in the early battle, the boot of Biggar then stretched the lead to 10 points after an Edinburgh offence at the scrum a quarter of an hour in.
Just a couple of minutes later it was 13-0, Biggar with the kick once again.
Edinburgh responded by putting together their best period of play as the clock ticked past the half hour, and they got their first points on the board through a Harry Leonard penalty after the rare sight of the Ospreys front row popping up at the scrum.
It was proving to be a physical contest, and with half-time approaching there was the sight of both Tom Smith and Richard Hibbard receiving treatment after big hits from Aleki Lutui and Dimitri Basilaia respectively. Hibbard was able to pick himself up and carry on, but Smith unfortunately left the field on a stretcher, Justin Tipuric replacing him in the 37th minute.
The delay didn’t cause the Ospreys to lose their concentration, and they carved open the Edinburgh to grab their second try immediately. It came from a lineout on the right, quick hands and good movement creating a 3 v 2 on the left, Richard Fussell delaying the pop pass just long enough for Eli Walker to gather and dive over the tackler to ground in the corner. TMO Paul Adams confirmed the try after it was referred upstairs for a potential forward pass from Fussell.
Biggar’s conversion drifted to the right, leaving the score 18-3 to the Ospreys at the interval.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 18 EDINBURGH 3
After ending the first half on a high the Ospreys started the second period in the same manner, grabbing their third try within just two minutes of the restart.
Eli Walker had brought the crowd to their feet with a turn of pace up the left, and after Edinburgh offended Biggar put the ball in the corner instead of going for the points.
A well worked lineout move saw Ian Evans offloading a couple of metres out to Hibbard and the hooker barged his way over from close range, taking the score to 23-3, Biggar missing the conversion.
If anyone thought it was going go on to be a straightforward march to a bonus point win for the home team, Edinburgh served a swift reminder of what they are capable of, getting their first try just two minutes later.
It came after sloppy play from Tito Tebaldi resulted in an Edinburgh scrum deep inside Ospreys territory, flying Dutchman Tim Visser eventually scything his way through a huge gap in the hosts’ defence to score his 50th PRO12 try. Leonard’s conversion took Edinburgh into double figures.
It all kicked off in the 49th minute, Tipuric’s tackle on Sean Kennedy infuriating the Edinburgh players, sparking an old fashioned ‘all-in’ on the touchline. When it eventually all calmed down, the Osprey was shown a yellow and forced to spend 10 minutes in the sinbin.
Despite being a man short, the furore only served to warm up the home crowd and players alike, and as the noise levels rose the bonus point arrived in the 53rd minute.
Another powerful lineout drive took the Ospreys close to the Edinburgh line before Tebaldi peeled off down the blindside and fed Hibbard who crashed over for his second try – the first time since a Heineken Cup tie against Viadana in 2009 that he had scored two in a game.
Biggar added the conversion, but within a minute the visitors were back under the posts as the Ospreys made it five tries. This time it was Walker with his second, showing electric pace to beat the Edinburgh defence to Fussell’s measured grubber and dab down. Biggar added the extras to take the score to 37-10.
Tipuric returned to the action on the hour having watched his team-mates add 14 points while he was on the sidelines, but with the Ospreys back up to their full complement they were forced to defend on their line as Edinburgh pressed for a second try. The Trebanos Lions’ first contribution was to win a great turnover two metres out, allowing Ashley Beck to clear.
A flurry of Ospreys changes saw the rhythm of the game starting to break-up, but they managed to have the final say with a spectacular solo try from Morgan, on for Biggar, collecting the ball under his own posts before jinking his way through the Edinburgh defence to race the length of the field and score the sixth, and final, Ospreys try of the night.
The outside half then rounded off the scoring, adding the conversion to complete a good night’s work in front of the biggest ever Liberty crowd for a game against the Scottish team.