Ospreys 30 - 20 Zebre

Matthew Morgan kicked 20 points for the Ospreys as they overcame Italian outfit, Zebre 30-20 at the Liberty Stadium.

The Ospreys got back to winning ways with two second half tries through Tyler Ardron and Duncan Jones. Zebre grabbed two of their own as back row forwards, Filippo Cristiano and Samuela Vunisa crossed for the visitors.

It was the Ospreys who had the early chance to get points on the board after gathering their own kick-off through captain, Jonathan Spratt. After working patiently through the phases, Zebre infringed at the bottom of the ruck and Matthew Morgan kicked the Ospreys into an early three point lead.

The Ospreys had two line breaks early on through Jeff Hassler and Joe Bearman but failed to make them count. They ventured back up the pitch after stealing their opponents lineout where Richard Fussell almost put Tyler Ardron over in the corner but the Canadian dropped the ball as he stretched for the line.

After putting pressure on the resulting Zebre scrum, the Ospreys found themselves with possession in the visitors twenty-two. Again, the Ospreys came close but settled for another penalty kick through Morgan after Zebre strayed offside.

All the possession was with the Ospreys as they looked to extend their lead but against the run of play, Zebre’s Andries van Schalkwyk found himself with a clear run in to the line as he intercepted Morgan’s pass on halfway. The openside flanker was chased down and caught by the Ospreys outside-half but Filippo Cristiano picked up the loose ball to score. Paulo Buso added the extras from out wide.

Zebre were a lot more confident and looked to spread the ball out wide. Gonzalo Garcia had a long range penalty attempt but he pulled the kick wide.  The Ospreys had a chance to regain their lead with a penalty of their own soon after and Morgan stepped up from forty metres out to deliver.

The Italian’s hit back immediately following a powerful scrum from their pack just outside the Ospreys twenty-two. Salvatore Perugini forced Aaron Jarvis to pop up and Buso put his team back in front from the tee. Minutes later, Zebre made the most of Ospreys ill-discipline again, as Garcia made no mistake this time and he slotted his first penalty of the match.

A period of possession for the Ospreys saw the home team set up camp in their opponents twenty-two. Morgan almost slipped through a gap in the defence but the outside-half had to settle for an easy three points.

The Ospreys found themselves back on the attack from the kick-off. Hassler broke down the wing once more but a high tackle on the Canadian meant the Ospreys had to settle for three points. Morgan kept up his 100% record with the boot and put his team in front on the stroke of half-time.

HALF TIME: Ospreys 15 Zebre 13

A loose-kick from Zebre was gathered by Fussell who looked to attack from within his own half after spotting a prop in the midfield. The full-back took him on before sending Hanno Dirksen through a gap. The winger just got caught but Fussell was on hand to take the offload and break into the visitors twenty-two. He got pulled down short of the line but the ball was recycled quickly and Tyler Ardron was waiting out wide to score the try. Morgan missed his first kick of the game.

The momentum was in the Ospreys favour and they again battled their way into the Zebre twenty-two after Morgan made a break, popping inside to Sam Lewis. Hassler came close to finishing in the corner but as the ball was worked back infield and a simple pop by Ben John to Duncan Jones saw the loose-head crash through a gap and over for his first try for the region since 2009. Morgan added the two points from close range.

A big tackle from Bearman, greeted by loud cheers from the home crowd, saw the ball come loose. The Ospreys picked up and broke through James King, offloading to Lewis who threw the ball wide to Hassler again, but the winger was dragged into touch.

Zebre were not giving up the fight though as they opted to kick to touch from their penalties in the hunt for tries. The visitors came close through a driving lineout but remained patient as the maul came down short of the line. Brendon Leonard was dictating the phases, marshalling his pack valiantly before sending his number eight, Samuela Vunisa crashing over from close range. Garcia converted to bring the visitors to within a converted try of their opponents.

The Ospreys managed to swing the momentum back around in their favour. Morgan managed to provide his team with a lineout five metres out. As the driving maul rumbled forward, it was pulled down by Vuniesa and the Ospreys had advantage.

Morgan kicked cross field for Dirksen but the South African winger was deemed to be out of play. Vuniesa was sent to the bin so with the man advantage, Spratt opted for the scrum. Despite being a player up, the scrum was messy and Bearman had to recover the ball at the base. The Zebre defence held strong and another Ospreys chance went begging as the Italians turned the ball over.

The territory and possession was in the Ospreys favour but they had failed to score the points. Morgan had a chance in midfield to create some daylight between the teams with another penalty and he added the three pointer.

FULL-TIME: Ospreys 30 Zebre 20