The Ospreys enjoyed a pre-Christmas romp at the Liberty Stadium, running in 11 tries to equal their match record, as they also scored their all-time biggest European victory.
It was a fourth consecutive bonus point win in the competition for the Ospreys who have now scored 31 tries in four games, conceding only three, and leaves them sitting pretty at the top of Pool 2, 10 points clear of Lyon and 15 ahead of Newcastle, who meet tomorrow in north east England.
After a slow start from the hosts, which saw them trailing 0-3 up to just short of the 20-minute mark, the Ospreys cut loose, securing the try bonus with two minute still to play in the first half, before driving home their advantage after the break.
Scott Baldwin, Dan Evans and the returning Hanno Dirksen all scored two tries, while Olly Cracknell, Ashley Beck, Brendon Leonard and Scott Otten also touched down. Dan Biggar scored a second half try to go with his eight conversions to give him a personal tally of 21 points.
As the Ospreys struggled to get going, an early scrum penalty allowed Grenoble an opportunity to go for the posts and Gilles Bosch made no mistake, putting his side ahead with four minutes played.
It was all Grenoble in the opening exchanges and only good scramble defence closed the door on the visitors after some fluid play that almost saw them work an opening for Kevin Kornath on their right.
Slowly though the Ospreys were able to play their way into the contest and were able to grab the game’s first try midway through the first half.
Twice they spurned kickable penalties to go to the corner, building up pressure that eventually saw Cracknell picking up at the back of a ruck just a couple of metres out and crashing his way over to score his first of the season, Biggar adding the extras.
Try number two came 10 minutes later and it was Beck, dancing his way between three defenders from 10 metres out to score after strong running from Leonard and Davies had initially taken the Ospreys into the Grenoble 22. Biggar converted and the Ospreys now led 14-3.
The visitors were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes shortly after, the referee having no hesitation in showing yellow to Mathias Marie for a high tackle. With the French side a lock short, the Ospreys wasted no time in taking full advantage, going to the corner and then driving their way over the line for Baldwin to touch down, the conversion again good.
As was the case last weekend at Stade des Alpes, the bonus point was in the bag before the half-time whistle had gone, Baldwin with his second in four minutes, finishing off a lovely attacking move sparked by Kieron Fonotia, charging through the tackle in midfield. With good support from backs and forwards, there was a two-man overlap out on the left and the hooker went over for his second.
Biggar missed with the conversion but within 90 seconds he had better luck, slotting over his fourth successful kick after try number five came straight from the restart.
Davies did exceptionally well to collect the ball off Evans on his 22 from the kick-off and beat the chasers before a delightful pass released Evans, supporting well on halfway and the full-back, playing on the wing today, raced clear to score, allowing the Ospreys to head down the tunnel 30 points clear.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 33 GRENOBLE 3
The Liberty Stadium crowd wasn’t kept waiting too long for try number six, which came within two minutes of the restart.
Biggar made the initial break and some lovely hands along the backline almost saw Dafydd Howells go over in the corner, before Cracknell was held up inches short. Leonard was alive at the base of the ruck, squirreling his way over from close range for a score converted once again by Biggar.
The skipper for the day was busy at the other end shortly after, his covering tackle putting Pierre Mignot in touch as it looked as though Grenoble had worked the winger into enough space up the flank to get away from the cover to score.
As Grenoble kept up the pressure, Howells then showed good awareness and pace to win the contest for Bastien Guillemin’s dink over the top, the winger getting to the ball and grounding it ahead of two chasing players.
Having survived that brief spell of Grenoble pressure the Ospreys were soon back on the offensive and it was Biggar who went under the posts for try number seven after Fonotia and Davies had combined well, Biggar also adding the extras.
Within minutes of entering the field for his first appearance of the season following a lengthy injury lay-off, Dirksen was celebrating his 27th for the Ospreys. The winger showed great athleticism as, with a penalty advantage in their favour, Biggar sent a pinpoint cross kick to the corner where Dirksen won the aerial battle before swiveling and grounding in one movement.
In a rare off moment, Biggar’s conversion was way off target but the Ospreys now led 52-3 with a quarter of an hour still to play.
The Ospreys were relentless and the tries kept coming, another replacement getting on the scoreboard when Otten touched down from the back of a maul on 72 minutes, Biggar’s radar back on for two more points.
There was still time for two more, Evans finishing well for his second after a lovely carry, dummy and pass from big second row Adam Beard, Biggar converting, before the evening was rounded off by a lovely score, the impressive Beck carrying upfield over halfway and, with options either side he freed Davies on his outside.
Davies carried well, delaying his final offload perfectly, allowing Dirksen to canter over for his second of the night, a score that moved him above Lee Byrne to sixth in the all-time list, his 28 just one behind Sonny Parker.
With the Ospreys sitting pretty at the summit of Pool 2 with two games to play, focus now switches back to the PRO12 and a huge third v fourth derby against the Scarlets on 27th December.