The Ospreys’ Challenge Cup campaign continued to soar as they made it three bonus point wins from as many games, running in nine tries at Stade des Alpes in Friday night’s rearranged game.
- The Ospreys make light of the 24 hour delay to secure a bonus point inside 40 minutes to strengthen their grip on Pool 2
- Giles scores two tries to make it 11 tries in 7 games while a brace from Howells means he has 7 in 11 this season
- Alun Wyn becomes the highest scoring forward in the region's history while Parry, Matavesi and Biggar also touches down to go with his 14 points with the boot
- Next up for the Ospreys is the return leg in the Grenoble double header at the Liberty Stadium next weekend
After a frustrating 24 hours that had seen Thursday’s game postponed less than an hour before kick-off before two pitch inspections on Friday, the visitors gave the perfect response, securing the bonus point before the break.
They were ahead inside five minutes, Kieron Fonotia with his first Ospreys try, Sam Parry, Alun Wyn Jones and Josh Matavesi all scoring inside the first 40.
It was relentless stuff and the tries kept coming in the second half, Dafydd Howells and Keelan Giles getting two apiece before Dan Biggar rounded off the scoring, his try going with his seven conversions as the Ospreys cemented their spot at the top of the pool.
It had started off promisingly enough for the hosts, early pressure from Grenoble seeing them pressing on the Ospreys 22. However, the black wall held firm and it was Justin Tipuric who stole possession, ripping the ball in contact.
That allowed the Ospreys to counter attack with real intent from inside their own 22 and, after Biggar's delicate little chip to the right wing, Giles slipped it inside to Fonotia for the simplest of walk-ins, Biggar adding the extras.
Looking to kill the opposition off early the Ospreys were then able to work themselves into a good position just a couple of minutes later but on this Grenoble defence held firm as Giles knocked on five metres out.
In the 12th minute a dangerous tackle on Alun Wyn Jones was reviewed by TMO. The verdict was just a penalty but it allowed BIggar to go to the corner. The pack duly rumbled over, Parry dabbing down for his sixth of the season, which Biggar converted from the touchline.
Grenoble then served notice that it wasn’t going to be one-way traffic, winning a penalty at an Ospreys scrum and then driving for the line. Although that wave of pressure was repelled, Grenoble kept pressing through multiple phases until Gilles Bosch fed Clement Gelin, who danced over from close range for a score converted by Bosch.
The Ospreys hit straight back from the restart, Grenoble offside. Biggar put it in the corner and, with a penalty advantage, although the initial drive was unsuccessful, the skipper went over from close range for try number 21 in his Ospreys career, moving one ahead of Ryan Jones as the highest scoring forward in the region’s history.
There was a scare when the Grenoble pack rumbled forward from a lineout close to the Ospreys 22, think they’d gone all the way only to be pinged for truck and trailer.
What followed as half time approached was a scrappy period of play, both sides coughing up possession. Somehow the Ospreys ended up with a lineout on the Grenoble 22 from where Matavesi finished off some lovely work by centre partner Fonotia to find his way through a huge gap and score the bonus point try, converted by Biggar.
HALF-TIME: GRENOBLE 7 OSPREYS 28
After some early Grenoble pressure came to nothing following the restart, a penalty went the Ospreys way after Jones was tackled without the ball on halfway.
From the lineout there was some wonderful interplay between the backs and forwards, Parry and Rhodri Jones carrying strongly, Rory Thornton, Matavesi and Biggar all involved before Tipuric twisted and turned away from a tackle to ground it, only for the TMO to rule it short.
Back again came the Ospreys with another easy on the eye move that drew warm applause from the home support, Great play again, Biggar carrying well initially to take his team upfield before Baker, Biggar once more, Matavesi, and Fonotia were all involved before James King's offload freed Howells to dive over in the corner. This time the score was confirmed by the TMO but, with 50 minutes played, Biggar was off target for the first time, missing from left touchline by inches.
Howells then brought up the hour with his second, a tap and go, from Tom Habberfield putting the Ospreys on the front foot before the Abercrave winger danced over from 15m out to score. Biggar converted and the scoreboard read 40-7 in the Ospreys favour.
A huge spell of Grenoble pressure along the 22m line came to nothing, the hosts frustrated by a black wall of defence, and Gelin eventually forced into touch 15m out.
Try number seven came in the 65th minute. There seemed little on when Nigel Hunt was stripped of the ball deep inside Ospreys territory by a combination of Matavesi and Biggar. However, Giles was alert to the opportunity, receiving the ball off Thornton more than 60m out and jinking through a congested midfield before racing away to score. Biggar converted again.
It was one-way traffic and Howells thought he was in for a hat trick after a Biggar chip and chase created the opening. It looked good but closer inspection showed a knock on in the build-up.
There was still time for the Ospreys to extend their lead in the final four minutes, two more tries taking them past the half century.
First it was Brendon Leonard who released Giles for his second of the night, the wing running a great angle off a ruck, before Biggar added the extras and then rounded the evening off with try number nine, Howells the unselfish provider after good work again from Leonard..
The Ospreys now welcome Grenoble to the Liberty Stadium next Saturday afternoon for an untelevised clash as they look to cement their place at the top of the pool, before the Scarlets visit on December 27th.