Quarter-finals still in sight for Ospreys

Ospreys 44 Treviso 17

Ospreys 44 Treviso 17

The Ospreys kept alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup with a six-try romp against Treviso at the Liberty Stadium.

The hosts had secured the bonus point after just six minutes of the second half as a penalty try added to Ashley Beck’s first-half brace and Tommy Bowe’s interception score, with replacement Kahn Fotuali’i and a second penalty try completing the scoring as fly-half Dan Biggar kicked 12 points.

Edoardo Gori’s opportunistic score had kept Treviso in the game before the break, and lock Gonzalo Padro added a second-half try with fly-half Kristopher Burton contributing both conversions and a penalty.

While the win keeps the Ospreys in the hunt for Pool Five qualification they are likely to need a bonus-point win in Biarritz in their final game, and other results to go their way, to have any hope of progressing.

Treviso had dented the Welsh side’s last-eight aspirations by holding them to a draw in October, but the hosts could not have wished for a better start as a loose midfield pass was picked off by Bowe for the Ireland wing to race 60 metres and dot down under the posts inside three minutes.

Burton and Biggar traded penalties but the home side’s failure to convert a scything break from Bowe proved costly as Treviso levelled the scores.

Bowe had linked well with Justin Tipuric and Shane Williams to take the Welsh side into the opposing 22, but a lack of control at the ruck saw Gori seize on a loose ball to race the length of the field, with Burton adding a superb touchline conversion.

Despite that setback the Ospreys were finding it far too easy to pick holes in the Treviso defence, and Rhys Webb’s sniping run eventually yielded a simple penalty for Biggar to put them back in front.

Treviso failed to heed the warning and they were punished when Webb ghosted outside Burton to pave the way for centre Beck to ride a challenge and score the home side’s second try.

Beck, a contender for a place in Wales’ Six Nations squad, soon had a second try to celebrate after Treviso once again contributed to their own downfall.

The Italian side failed to secure a line-out in their own 22 and Andrew Bishop’s half-break saw him feed inside to give Beck a simple finish, Biggar’s conversion stretching the lead to 25-10.

The second quarter was a scrappy, scoreless affair but Bishop’s chargedown of Burton’s clearance almost gave the Ospreys the position from which to claim their fourth try, but video referee Tony Spreadbury decided after lengthy deliberation that Bowe had failed to ground the ball under the challenge of two defenders.

That verdict gave the Ospreys a five-yard scrum and provided little respite for Treviso, who had struggled throughout to contain the power of Paul James and Adam Jones.

The Italians had thrown replacement props Agusto Allori and Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet into the mix in an effort to limit the damage, but they were given short shrift by the Wales pair and referee JP Doyle had little option but to award a penalty try, converted by Biggar, which gave the Ospreys their first four-try bonus point of the season.

To their credit Treviso hit back almost immediately as rampaging carries from tireless back-rowers Paul Derbyshire and Alessandro Zanni put them deep in Ospreys territory, where a pop pass saw lock Padro barge over.

The game became ever more disjointed as both sides made use of their respective benches, but the Ospreys continued to spurn chances to add to their try tally.

Replacement fly-half Matthew Morgan showed a glimpse of why he is so highly rated with a superb step and break, but fellow substitute Fotuali’i could not hang on to his pass in contact.

But the same combination worked to better effect with 12 minutes to go as Morgan picked out the Treviso second-rows loitering in the defensive line and stepped on the gas to race between them and send Samoa international Fotuali’i in.

A second penalty try, converted by Morgan, rounded off the scoring.

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