Ospreys open with Treviso trouncing

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Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The Ospreys opened their Champions Cup campaign in emphatic fashion by posting a bonus point 42-7 victory over outclassed Liberty Stadium visitors Treviso.

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar ran the show, kicking 17 points and orchestrating Ospreys’ best attacking moments as full-back Dan Evans touched down twice, while wing Jeff Hassler, scrum-half Rhys Webb and number eight Dan Baker also scored tries.

Treviso wing Ludovico Nitoglia scored a late consolation try, converted by former Worcester and Wasps fly-half Joe Carlisle, but there was little for the Italians to cheer on another dismal European occasion for them.

It meant the unbeaten Guinness PRO12 leaders took early charge of Pool Five, teeing up nicely next Saturday’s clash against reigning Aviva Premiership champions Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

Saints will start as favourites – they beat Ospreys twice in last season’s Heineken Cup – but Biggar and company can head to the east midlands confident of making an impression.

The only worrying note on an otherwise routine afternoon was Wales autumn squad hopeful Baker being carried off midway through the second period after suffering what appeared to be a neck injury. There was a 10-minute stoppage while Baker received attention from medics.

Treviso, back in Swansea little more than a month after they suffered a 44-13 PRO12 defeat against the Ospreys, were soon under pressure when Biggar sparked a brilliant counter-attack from deep inside home territory.

And although Treviso halted that move, two successful Biggar penalties during the opening eight minutes hinted at a long shift to come for the lowest-ranked team in this season’s competition.

There was a fluency about Ospreys’ play and after Biggar completed his penalty hat-trick inside 13 minutes, their opening try arrived shortly afterwards following strong set-piece play, slick handling and a neat Biggar pass than sent Hassler over.

Biggar added the conversion, and Ospreys were well on their way to a potential bonus-point victory, leading 16-0 early in the second quarter of a one-sided encounter.

Treviso’s cause was not helped by the loss through injury of captain Antonio Pavanello, and they were then temporarily reduced to 14 players when Pavanello’s replacement Marco Fuser was sin-binned by French referee Pascal Gauzere for pulling down a maul deep inside his team’s 22.

Ospreys then kept up the pressure, and Webb sniped his way over for a sixth try in seven starts this term – form that suggests he will strongly challenge Mike Phillips to wear the Wales number nine shirt against opening autumn Test series opponents Australia on November 8 – and Biggar’s conversion made it 23-0.

The Ospreys forwards looked to maintain their grip in the second period, and their dominance led to a further Treviso indiscretion that saw substitute prop Salesi Manu yellow-carded, which as with Fuser’s caution cost the visitors dear.

Within a minute of Manu’s exit, the Ospreys struck for their third try when Evans grounded possession underneath a pile of bodies, and Biggar’s conversion left Treviso 30 points adrift with more than 30 minutes remaining.

The bonus-point try arrived with just 54 minutes gone as Treviso’s defence found itself scattered to all parts, enabling Baker to enjoy an unopposed run-in before Biggar maintained his 100 per cent success rate by landing a seventh successful kick from seven attempts.

Baker’s injury did not noticeably disrupt the Ospreys’ rhythm, and their fifth try arrived 17 minutes from time following a sharp break and a superbly-timed scoring pass by the impressive Webb to an unmarked Evans.

Treviso showed plenty of commitment and desire, despite the scoreline, but their technical, tactical and skill limitations mean it will be a major surprise if they win a European game this season, especially as their other pool opponents are Northampton and Racing Metro.

With the game long done as a contest, Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy had all eight of his substitutes on well before the end, including Wales internationals Justin Tipuric, Aaron Jarvis and Duncan Jones, but he knows the European campaign is about to crank up considerably as Northampton lie in wait.

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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