The Ospreys secured a bonus point win in the rain against Magners League newcomers Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium, but were made to battle all the way by the Italians.
In total they ran in five tries, through Lee Byrne, Nikki Walker, Andrew Bishop, Jonathan Thomas and Shane Williams, with Dan Biggar adding seven points with his boot on his 50th appearance for the region.
After a tentative opening few minutes with the two teams looking to get to grips with the wet and greasy conditions as the rain hammered down, the Ospreys burst into life with a try in only the 5th minute.
It was Jamie Nutbrown who made the initial break on halfway, and he fed the supporting Byrne who cantered through to score, Biggar converting.
Treviso responded well, and they were on the scoreboard themselves three minutes later, Tobie Botes slotting over a penalty after Ian Evans was pinged for not rolling away.
The Ospreys almost scored a second try shortly after, quick ball from the scrum allowing Biggar to burst through the middle before feeding Gareth Owen, but the centre dropped the ball as he dived over to ground it.
They didn’t have to wait much longer though, a well-worked move, seeing the backs working the ball from left to right across the field. Walker was left with some work to do when it reached him near the touchline, but there was no stopping the Scottish winger as he powered his way over. Biggar’s conversion was skewed wide of the left hand post.
As the torrential rain that had hammered down since lunchtime finally eased, Biggar was then able to take the score to 15-3 with a penalty straight down the middle just past the midway point of the first half, before Botes was successful with his second penalty of the night, a long-range effort from halfway just having the distance. The Treviso scrum-half was unsuccessfully with a much easier looking kick shortly after, after the Ospreys were again guilty of not rolling way.
In contrast to the Ospreys expansive rugby the Italians were looking to keep the ball among the forwards, and this was typified by a move from an attacking line-out that saw Treviso slowly edge forward from a series of pick and goes, until some abrasive defence in the shadow of the posts allowed the hosts to win turnover ball, Biggar sending the ball back downfield.
Botes was then able to reduce the deficit to just six points with his third successful penalty of the night after Mefin Davies was penalised for obstruction.
With half time approaching the game had lost its shape, with a series of aimless kicks seeing possession constantly switching, and the flow of the game constantly being interrupted by the ref’s whistle.
HALF TIME: OSPREYS 15 BENETTON TREVISO 9
The rain had returned by the time the teams re-entered the field, but it didn’t stop Bishop handing his side the perfect start to the second period, popping up on Biggar’s left shoulder to receive a deft little pass, bursting through a gap in the Treviso defence after the fly-half had intelligently switched the direction of the Ospreys attack, the successful conversion making it 22-9.
The bonus point arrived with less than 50 minutes on the clock, Thomas being driven over from close range after good line-out ball from Davies.
Not for the first time, the Ospreys were then forced to endure a period of prolonged Treviso pressure, but the visitors were unable to find a way through. Then, at the other end, Biggar was unhappy as he appeared to be obstructed as he looked to chase a Walker hack through, but referee Dudley Phillips wasn’t impressed by his claims.
The visitors were reduced to 14 just before the hour though, Tomasso Benvenuti sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball.
Try five almost arrived shortly after, replacement Tommy Bowe looking dangerous with his first touch before chipping forward. Byrne appeared to have won the race to ground for his second try of the night, but the TMO ruled that he had knocked the ball on.
Conditions were deteriorating and the game was becoming more and more disjointed, but the Ospreys were still able to conjour up a well-worked try for Williams in the corner. Rhys Webb sparked the moved with a quickly taken tap penalty, Ben Lewis carried it well, before the ball was worked wide to take advantage of the overlap, Williams doing well to pick Bowe's grubber up of his bootlaces to score. Biggar failed with a difficult conversion attempt on the touchline, leaving it 32-9 with a little over 10 minutes to play.
With Treviso back up to 15, the Ospreys were then a man light, skipper Jerry Collins yellow carded for an offence at the ruck, meaning his side had to play out the final minutes with 14.
The game was safe, but there was time for Treviso to grab a well deserved try at the death, the TMO awarding the score under the posts to Brendan Williams, Chris Burton rounding off the scoring, the Ospreys winning 32-16.