United Rugby Championship: Ospreys come from behind to claim priceless victory as Zebre’s winless run continues
Ospreys produced an excellent fightback to pile more misery on winless Zebre as they snatched a 28-24 triumph at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Sunday.
The Italians looked set to claim their first victory of the season when they held a 24-14 advantage with a quarter of the match remaining, but it was not to be.
Despite a fast start from the Welsh region, who went 14-0 up through Harri Deaves and Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler tries, the hosts scored 24 unanswered points.
Kobus van Wyk crossed the whitewash to reduce the arrears before Taina Fox-Matamua’s brace moved them ahead at the break.
And when Luca Andreani went over, Zebre appeared set for a landmark win, but the visitors had other ideas.
Morgan Morris touched down to increase the pressure on the hosts and the Italians ultimately could not cope, with Reuben Morgan-Williams winning the game for the Ospreys.
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It was the Ospreys who started the better as wing Luke Morgan ran a superb line and flanker Deaves kept his position out wide to cross on only his second URC start this season.
Jack Walsh added the conversion and Ospreys claimed a second try after six minutes.
This time the ball was swept to the left through several pairs of hands for centre Thomas-Wheeler to stroll in unopposed.
Walsh’s kick took him past 50 URC points this term and Ospreys led 14-0.
It looked as if it was going to be a difficult afternoon for Zebre, but they reduced the deficit halfway through the first period when Van Wyk accepted Tiff Eden’s long pass to make the corner.
Ten minutes later Zebre produced a wonderful try after wing Jacopo Trulla pounced on an Ospreys mistake.
Forwards Josh Furno and Andreani kept the move going and number eight Fox-Matamua cut back on a delightful angle, with Eden adding the extras.
It got even better for Zebre as Fox-Matamua took Leonard Krumov’s pass for his second try inside the space of five minutes. Eden’s successful kick gave the Italians a 19-14 interval lead.
Zebre claimed their fourth try – and a bonus point to boot – nine minutes into the second half.
Forward pressure told as Chris Cook flicked a clever reverse pass to Andreani, whose strength took him over the line at the corner.
Ma'r Gweilch ar y blaen unwaith eto yn yr Eidal! 🙌
The OSpreys turn the game on its head! 👊
🦓 24 – 28 🦅
🔴 English Commentary#BKTURC | @ospreys pic.twitter.com/yS1U1akRJi
— S4C Rygbi (@S4CRygbi) January 29, 2023
Zebre lost Fox-Matamua to injury and his departure was to prove crucial as Ospreys seized the initiative.
Morris ploughed over from close range and replacement Stephen Myler’s conversion cut the gap to three points.
Ospreys immediately hit the front following Keelan Giles’ superb footwork near the touchline.
The wing somehow found a yard to fire a return pass to Morris and scrum-half Morgan-Williams was on the number eight’s shoulder to register the decisive bonus-point try which Myler converted.
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