The Ospreys secured their first PRO12 win of the season with a gritty performance full of spirit in the Treviso sunshine.
After failing to score a try in their first three games they managed three this afternoon through Dan Evans, Ben John and Sam Davies, with Davies also kicking 10 points as they overcame a Treviso team welcoming back their Italian RWC contingent.
An early penalty against the Ospreys for tackler not releasing gave Treviso a sight of goal and Jayden Hayward made no mistake from just outside the 22m line on his right.
The Ospreys were then handed chance to hit straight back, a good scrum on a Treviso put in leading to a penalty close to 40m out, but Davies pulled his kick wide to the right of the sticks.
The young fly half had another chance a few minutes later, this time a much easier kick from just inside the Treviso 22 after the scrum had gone down. However, the outcome was the same as his first effort, the kick drifting off target, much to the surprise of the home crowd whose gasps were audible.
The first quarter had been played almost entirely in Treviso territory, and that dominance eventually showed on the scoreboard as the Ospreys created a lovely try as the clock reached 20 minutes.
Evans, on for the injured Hanno Dirksen just five minutes earlier, became the first Osprey to touch down this season, rounding off a great team score that had seen them running back Treviso’s clearing kick from their own 10m line, the replacement exchanging passes with Brendon Leonard before reaching over to ground the ball.
Davies was having a forgetful time from the tee, his conversion missing to make it 0 from 3, but the Ospreys led by two points.
They weren’t ahead for long though as the hosts scored their first try of the afternoon and it was too easy for the scorer, James Ambrosini, who brushed off three ineffective tackles to race through and score from a scrum 30m out.
Hayward missed the conversion attempt, leaving the score 8-5 to the hosts, but in just a matter of minutes they were trailing once again as the Ospreys grabbed a second try.
Awarded a penalty deep inside the Treviso half, close to the left hand touchline, they went for the corner. Although their first attempt for the line was halted, they spread the ball out the full width of the field, looking for space, and then back again where, with a two man overlap, John was left with the simplest of finishes.
This time Davies found the target and the scoreboard now read 8-12, the Ospreys leading by four points at the half hour mark.
A long-range Hayward penalty from close to halfway almost had the distance, dropping late to hit the crossbar, allowing the Ospreys to clear their lines, going in at the break with a narrow lead.
HALF-TIME: BENETTON TREVISO 8 OSPREYS 12
While the first half had offered up some pretty exciting stuff, the opening period of the second was far more low-key and it took 10 minutes to really get going after a long spell that saw both sides failing to really put anything together.
Eventually though it was the Ospreys who began to look the more threatening and, after Josh Matavesi had put the ball in the corner, his pack then won a penaty at the resulting lineout and Davies made no mistake. His kick took the Ospreys seven clear with 25 minutes still to play.
The Ospreys were enjoying the upper hand at the scrum, winning several penalties, and it was Treviso who were penalised again to allow Davies another shot at goal. This time, his kick from 43m out had the direction but dropped underneath the crossbar.
It was all Ospreys now and a great break from Joe Bearman, carrying from 10m line to 10m line, put his team on the front foot and they eventually created space for Tom Grabham on the right. The winger went for the line but was unable to hold onto the ball in the tackle and it went forward as he looked to ground it.
Still the men in black kept going though and a deserved third try eventually arrived in the 55th minute, Leonard doing well to create space for Davies who crossed under the posts before picking himself up to convert.
As the Ospreys know full well from previous visits to this ground, Treviso refuse to lie down down for anyone and are not beaten until the final whistle, and the hosts hauled themselves back into it with a stunning break from inside their own half. It was Andrea Pratichetti and Chris Smylie who made huge ground up the left, exchanging passes, before Hayward took the scoring pass to cross and go under the posts. The full back then added the extras, bringing Treviso to back within seven points.
It was all getting a touch nervy for the Ospreys but a penalty from more than 40m out then allowed Davies to take the lead back out to 10 points with five minutes to go.
That kick proved vital as Treviso piled the pressure on in the final minutes. With just a minute on the clock they were awarded a penalty. Knowing that they didn’t have time to win the game Hayward went for the posts to try and claim a losing bonus point.
However, his kick hit the right stick and came back into play, allowing Treviso to regather and pound the line with the clock showing time. Eventually Luca Bigi was able to burrow over the line for a try, confirmed by the TMO, Hayward’s conversion bringing the game to an end.
With that first win under the belt, the Ospreys now face Connacht at the Liberty next Saturday, 1.30pm kick-off.