Planet Rugby

Ospreys get job done in Italy

13th December 2008 15:19

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Not quite the cruise control performance of the week before, but the Ospreys claimed successive maximum point wins in a 36-16 victory against Benetton Treviso at Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Saturday.

The match-winning margin fell substantially short of the sixty-point drubbing at Liberty Stadium just seven days ago. However, the city of Venito witnessed the international-filled visitors overtake, if only temporarily, Leicester at the top of Pool Three thanks to assured spells of rugby that will worry both the Tigers and Perpignan in 2009.

Five tries were claimed on the day as Sonny Parker's brace and one each from Alun-Wyn Jones, Jonathan Thomas and Filo Tiatia proved enough to defeat their hosts.

The Welsh region, once again without the services of centre Gavin Henson as he remained at home for the birth of his second child, recalled international duo Shane Williams and Jones for parte due of their two-week Italian job.

Despite the grey skies and chilly temperatures, there was nothing dull about the jerseys donned by these two sides as Treviso wore their usual luminous yellow while the visitors were in an equally bright orange shade.

If the pre-game task was a daunting proposition during the week, life was made even tougher on six minutes as James Hook was hauled down without the ball by Hottie Louw en route to the whitewash - yellow card and fourteen men for the Italians which the Welsh were keen to exploit.

That they did eight minutes later as a well-worked scrum set-piece allowed flank Thomas to pierce the midfield before offloading to Rhodri Wells that led to centre Parker cruising over to begin the procession.

It didn't take much enterprise to bust the home defence as simple angles brought about the second score, this time Wyn-Jones slipping through to capitalise on Andrea Marcato's overcooked restart.

The scores were now 0-12 and with matters looking very ominous for Treviso, who were hoping to improve their European record of one win in 22, physical dominance in both tackle and the breakdown continued to show in the rain.

And that was evident once again as hooker Richard Hibbard peeled off a close-range ruck before offloading to Thomas, which moved the Ospreys three-quarters on the road to their five-point objective with the game not even half-an-hour old.

However, against the run of play the visitors were surprisingly stunned moments later as a short passage of play upset the seemingly cantering Welsh. Firstly, in decent territory, Parker's attempted inside ball found looming speedster Brendan Williams, who raced 60 metres to add seven points to Azzurri fly-half Marcato's earlier penalty kick.

The second period opened up with Marcato continuing to eat away at the lead with two efforts before normal service was resumed in a mist of bad-temperedness. Lock Ian Gough was openly incensed by something that went on five metres from the Treviso line with the television match official called to judge on whether a try had been scored...no was the answer, but the Ospreys seemed lifted by Gough's spirit.

And so it proved as the bonus-point score finally came on the hour thanks to evergreen number eight Tiatia's controlled push-over which ultimately sealed the points. It was once again an individual performance that belied his 37 years as the Wellington-born forward left the field before the whistle in order to save his legs for tougher days ahead.

The match ended though with the Ospreys on the front foot as Parker claimed his second try of the afternoon to improve the margin.

It's now a case of maintaining form for Sean Holley's side ahead of their New Year climax while Treviso remain one of two teams rooted on zero points in the competition, albeit in one of the toughest Pools.

Man of the match: Unfortunate to have had Richie McCaw ahead of him over the years, Marty Holah was once again a cut above his opposition on Saturday. The New Zealander brushed off tacklers and linked superbly with his impressive back-row colleagues to get the Ospreys moving.

The scorers:

For Treviso:

Tries: Williams

Con: Marcato

Pen: Marcato 3

For Ospreys:

Tries: Parker 2, Wyn-Jones, Thomas, Tiatia

Con: Hook 3, Biggar

Pen: Hook

Yellow card: Hottie Louw (Treviso) - early tackle on six minutes

Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Andrew Vilk, 13 Benjamin De Jager, 12 Fraser Waters, 11 Marius Goosen, 10 Andrea Marcato, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Dion Kingi, 7 Hottie Louw, 6 Mark Gilbride, 5 Cornelius Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Pedro di Santo, 2 Giorgio Intoppa, 1 Franco Sbaraglini.

Replacements: 16 Diego Vidal, 17 Enrico Ceccato, 18 Enrico Pavanello, 19 Michael Barbieri, 20 Marco Filippucci, 21 Michael Horak, 22 Alberto Lucchese.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Rhodri Wells, 8 Filo Tiatia, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jonathan Thomas, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James (c).

Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Cai Griffiths, 18 Tom Smith, 19 Steve Tandy, 20 Rhys Webb, 21 Dan Biggar, 22 Jonny Vaughton.

Referee: Rob Debney (England)

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