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Preview: Ospreys v Treviso

11th October 2012 12:31

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Richard Hibbard Ospreys aironi

150 games for Ospreys: Richard Hibbard

Ospreys kick off their Heinken Cup campaign with tricky clash against Treviso at Liberty Stadium on Friday.

In the past Ospreys may well have been resounding favourites for the opening fixture in Pool Two, but that is no longer the case after Treviso's shock win over the defending Pro12 champions a few weeks ago.

Ospreys has truned their poor start to the season around and head coach Steve Tandy's first game in charge in Europe is the perfect opportunity to show they are on the right track.

Last season saw Treviso enjoy their best campaign in the Heineken Cup for seven years with victory over Biarritz and a draw against the Ospreys.

Kris Burton is wracking up the points in front of goal and in Italy flanker Roberto Barbieri, Treviso have the highest scoring forward in the Pro12 with six tries already this season. The Ospreys will be banking on Dan Biggar being on song with the boot.

Richard Hibbard makes his 150th Ospreys appearance while Jonathan Thomas plays his 50th Heineken Cup game. Ryan Bevington makes his first Heineken Cup start.

"We've been drawn against the best team in Italy, France and England, there are six Heineken Cup titles in the pool and every match is going to be a real test," said Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees.

"Treviso first up is a difficult one, we've seen for ourselves already, not just on the opening day of the season but also last year in the Heineken, how good a team they are. Leicester have also found it tough going against them in Europe and Toulouse will be well aware of how Biarritz fared against them last season, so we will be paying them the respect you would expect for such a good team.

"It's crucial in Europe to get off to a good start, and crucial that you win your home games, so the importance of Friday night can't be underestimated."

Meanwhile, Treviso welcome back wing Ludovico Nitoglia from injury as he returns to the starting XV for the first time since mid September. Tobias Botes and Kristopher Burton form a dangerous half-back pairing.

In the pack, Manoa Vosawai is back in the number eight jersey after a five-month layoff with a shoulder injury.

The other changes are in the front row where experiened Leonardo Ghiraldini, is joined by Alberto De Marchi and Jacobus "Bees" Roux.

The teams:

Ospreys:15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 George Stowers, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Tom Isaacs.

Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Valerio Bernab˛, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Jacobus Roux, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi,
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 18 Pedro Di Santo, 19 Francesco Minto, 20 Paul Derbyshire, 21 Robert Barbieri, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Andrea Pratichetti.

Date: Friday, October 12
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Referee: Neil Paterson

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