The Ospreys eased their way to the top of Pool 2 with a bonus point Challenge Cup win at the Liberty Stadium.
- An early Cory Allen double set the Ospreys on their way to a big victory, before Rhodri Jones’ first ever try for the Region and a penalty try secured the bonus point with 10 minutes to play
- Late tries from Luke Morgan and Owen Watkin, along with 15 points for Sam Davies and four for James Hook complete the scoring
- Ospreys in first place of Pool 2, with 11 points from three games, two points ahead of Worcester Warriors
- The team now head to Paris next weekend for the return leg of the double header on Friday night
Stade got the first points of the afternoon, a simple penalty from Morne Steyne, seven minutes in, for an Ospreys offside, but the scoreboard was level straight from the restart, this time Stade straying offside and Sam Davies with the three.
Taking the game by the scruff of the neck, the Ospreys put together an impressive spell of pressure in the Stade 22, Scott Williams prominent on more than on occasion. The hosts were eventually rewarded for their patience when, with a penalty advantage, the ball was popped up for Cory Allen who had the simplest of finishes, Davies converting.
There was an enforced double change in the front row before play restarted, Nicky Smith limping out of the action and his fellow prop, Ma’afu Fia going off for blood. Fia would return later, stitched up, but that was the end of Smith’s involvement.
Steyn then reduced the deficit a couple of minutes, splitting the posts from 35m out after a penalty against the Ospreys at the scrum.
The Ospreys threatened again, showing a real fluidity to their attacking game, but their next points came again from Davies’ boot after Stade were guilty of killing the ball at the ruck.
An entertaining contest then saw Stade level, a well worked play seeing the ball moved from right to left where winger Jimmy Yobo went over in the corner, Steyn with the touchline conversion to leave it all square at 13-13 after 25 minutes.
Back came the Ospreys, a good kick chase rewarded with a scrum in an attacking position, from which Davies provided the final pass for Allen to slide over on the right for his second try, Davies with the extras.
With time up at the end of the half, the Ospreys ran a loose Stade kick back from deep inside their half, Adam Beard making a galloping 30m break to take play into the opposition 22 where Malietoa Hingano was penalised for killing the ball. The centre was shown a yellow card and Davies brought the first half to a close with another three points.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 23-13 STADE FRANCAIS
Looking to take full advantage of the extra man, the Ospreys were soon celebrating try number three. The chance was almost blown, possession almost coughed up at an attacking lineout, but the pack were able to reclaim possession, tidy it up, and it was Rhodri Jones who barreled his way through the Stade defence from close range to score. Davies, enjoying a profitable day with the boot, duly added the extras.
Restored to 15, Stade enjoyed long spells of possession without ever looking like finding a way through resolute Ospreys defence and, as the rain began to hammer down and the hosts again took control.
The Parisians were reduced to 14 once more, with quarter of an hour to play, Stephane Clement shown yellow for collapsing a maul close to the line.
Looking to take full advantage of the extra man, the Ospreys then won a penalty in front of the posts and opted for a scrum and, after three penalties at the setpiece the decision was penalty try which secured the bonus point.
Although there were just nine minutes to play and the Ospreys holding a substantial 24 point lead, Stade weren’t going to throw the towel in and they grabbed their second try immediately from the restart, Julien Arias going over in the corner, Steyn with the conversion, taking the score to 37-20.
Although the win was secure, there was still time for a late flourish to add some polish to the scoreline, two converted tries in the final five minutes taking the Ospreys past the half-century.
First, Tom Habberfield put through a lovely grubber off the back of the scrum which Luke Morgan read expertly to produce a tremendous finish, sliding in to collect and ground it in one movement.
Then, in the last minute, the Ospreys pressed hard as Stade tried to play their way out of defence, Owen Watkin intercepting a Steyn pass to race through unchecked to round off the afternoon, Hook’s conversions for both scores completing a perfect day for the kickers.