Full report on a good afternoon for the Ospreys in Italy as they run in five tries to claim a maximum haul.
- Ospreys score 5 tries to secure a third consecutive win in the PRO12 and a fourth in five games in all competitions
- Tipuric scored 2 tries while Hassler, Walker and Spratt also touch down while Davies kicks 14 points
- Davies' haul takes him past Matthew Morgan in the all-time points list for the region into 5th place on 332
- Focus turns now to a Champions Cup double header against Bordeaux with the first game coming up at the Liberty next Saturday afternoon
- Next in the PRO12 is a massive Welsh derby against leaders the Scarlets on Boxing Day
The Ospreys left Parma with a bonus point in the bag after a thoroughly professional performance ensured a third consecutive PRO12 win.
Despite falling behind to an early Kayle van Zyl try the Ospreys were pretty much in control throughout and went in at the break with a 10 point lead following tries from Jeff Hassler, Eli Walker and Justin Tipuric.
Man of the match Tipuric then added his second to clinch the bonus point before setting up the final score for Jonathan Spratt.
The Ospreys started brightly, putting Zebre under some early pressure, and an offside gave the visitors a penalty in kickable range just four minutes in.
However, Sam Davies was instructed to go to the corner and as the Ospreys looked to press the Zebre line, the young 10’s pass for Spratt deep inside the Zebre 22 was read perfectly by Andries van Schalkwyk who took the ball in his stride, galloping up to halfway before releasing his wing van Zyl who raced home to score.
Marcello Violi converted and Zebre were seven up inside six minutes.
Despite the early setback is was all Ospreys as they responded positively, looking to attack at every opportunity.
The visitors grabbed their opening try with 14 minutes gone. It wasn’t pretty but it was very effective as the forwards ground their way towards the line with a series of pick and drives, sucking in defenders, before it was spun out to the right where Hassler took Josh Matavesi's pass and crashed over for the score, marking his return to action from injury in the way he loves best.
Davies converted from the touchline and the Ospreys were level.
The hosts served notice that they were up for the challenge when they broke from halfway, Hassler putting in a big hit on Johan Meyer. Zebre continued to press, pounding on the Ospreys line, but the defence held firm, eventually winning the penalty for holding on.
After Violi missed with a penalty from halfway after the Ospreys were pinged at the scrum, the visitors nudged ahead on the half hour mark after Davies had more success from a similar range, Zebre players offending at the ruck.
The Ospreys fly-half was having an influential game and it was his beautiful kick from halfway that had Mils Muliaina in trouble on his own line, a great kick chase seeing the All Black legend being bundled into touch in goal.
James King tried for the line from the back of the resulting scrum, then his fellow forwards had a go, before the ball was moved back to the left where Tipuric’s pass freed Walker who went over the corner with five minutes to go until the break.
Davies was dreadfully unlucky with his conversion attempt, seeing the ball hit the post and bar before bouncing back out, leaving the score at 7-15.
It got better for the Ospreys almost immediately, Zebre making a hash of possession on halfway, allowing Hassler to get a boot in before Davies hacked it upfield. It seemed a simple task for the covering defender van Zyl to collect and clear close to his line but he hadn’t accounted for the Ospreys open side haring down on him, just getting his toe to the ball to punt it over the line before falling on it to score.
The conversion from Davies took the Ospreys 15 points clear with 38 minutes gone, but Zebre served notice that they weren’t going to throw the towel in, grabbing their second try before the teams headed down the tunnel.
The Ospreys failed to deal with Zebre’s lineout drive, allowing scrum half Vioili to score, only for the same player to miss the conversion, which meant the Ospreys led by 10 at the break.
HALF-TIME: ZEBRE 12 OSPREYS 22
Canna and Davies traded penalties following the restart, before Zebre enjoyed the first prolonged spell of pressure in the half, a scrum penalty allowing the hosts to go to the corner from where they pounded the line for phase after phase before Tyler Ardron reacted well to win turnover ball.
That led to a great counter-attack from the Ospreys that swept them the full length of the field and it seemed the fourth try was a certainty as Davies broke the line 10m out. However, he popped it up to Arhip who was on his shoulder, only for the Moldovan to knock on a metre out as he went for the touchdown.
Zebre cleared but back came the Ospreys and this time there was no stopping Tipuric as he cut a great line coming in from the right to score under the posts, stepping the full back to score his second and the Ospreys’ fourth of the afternoon. Davies added the extras to take the score to 32-15, and Zebre were under their posts again just four minutes later as the Ospreys grabbed a fifth try.
Tipuric was at the heart of it again, taking the ball on halfway and scything through the Zebre defence before linking with Matavesi who provided the scoring pass to Spratt who cantered over for the try. Davies’ conversion meant the Ospreys led by 24 points with 18 minutes left on the clock.
With the game over as a contest there was nothing but pride left for Zebre to play for, and to their credit they kept pushing as the clock ticked down and they got their third five minutes from the end, a well worked move from a scrum under the posts that saw Van Zyl go over for his second, Edoardo Padovani converting.
With five points secured attention turns back to Europe next weekend and a big clash at the Liberty Stadium against Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon as the Ospreys look to build on their best ever start in European competition.