Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Ospreys up and running

Lee Byrne
Lee Byrne

Magners League champions the Ospreys sealed their first win of the season with a convincing five-tries-to-one 31-16 victory over Benetton Treviso at rain-drenched Liberty Stadium on Friday evening.

The win helped the Ospreys make a remarkable leap from bottom place in the standings up towards the top in only a matter of hours. After starting the day on -3 points, the Welsh region finished it on +6.

First they had their four-point deduction for this season overturned after an independent Celtic Rugby disciplinary appeal. That penalty was imposed after the Welsh region failed to fulfil their Magners fixture in Ulster in March. And the appeal victory was followed by a comfortable bonus win with tries for Lee Byrne, Nikki Walker, Andrew Bishop, Jonathan Thomas and Shane Williams.

Benetton scored a late converted try from full-back Brendan Williams with scrum-half Tobie Botes providing 11 points with the boot.

After scoring two tries in the opening 13 minutes, the Ospreys looked well on course for a comfortable victory but frustratingly for the home side they only led 15-9 at the interval.

The Ospreys were set on their way with a fifth-minute try for Byrne after a break by busy scrum-half Jamie Nutbrown. After Botes put the Italian champions on the scoreboard with a penalty goal, the Ospreys should have had a second try but Gareth Own dropped the ball in the process of scoring.

But three minutes later the Ospreys found themselves halfway to a try bonus point when wing Walker cruised in down the right after a neat passing move involving Dan Biggar, Bishop and Byrne.

After that, however, the Ospreys - who were without 16 injured and rested players - rather lost their way as Botes converted two out of three penalty attempts during the second quarter. They soon made up for it at the start of the second period as they took less than nine minutes to seal the bonus point.

The home side came out after half-time with a steely purpose to their game. They put the ball through the hands before Bishop raced through a gap to score his team's third try.

And seven minutes later a forward drive saw man of the match Jonathan Thomas emerge after scoring his side's fourth effort. Benetton did not help their cause when wing Tommaso Benvenuti was sin-binned for a professional foul and with the extra man Williams went in for the Ospreys' fifth try on 73 minutes.

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