Pro12: Ospreys 36-3 Zebre

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales at Liberty Stadium
Wing Eli Walker led the way for Ospreys with a try in either half
Wing Eli Walker led the way for Ospreys with a try in either half
Ospreys: (17) 36
Tries: Spratt, Matavesi, Walker 2, Tipuric, Parry Cons: Biggar 2, S Davies
Zebre: (3) 3
Pen: Canna

Ospreys eased to only their second win of the season, running in six tries to move above Zebre in the Pro12 table.

Jonathan Spratt, Josh Matavesi and Eli Walker crossed for first-half scores, with Justin Tipuric, Walker again and Sam Parry adding further touchdowns.

Dan Biggar kicked two conversions from six shots at goal and Sam Davies one.

The result was a welcome fillip for the Ospreys as they prepare to kick off their European Champions Cup campaign against Exeter Chiefs next weekend.

The Ospreys gave a first regional start of the season to captain Alun Wyn Jones, who faces a decision over whether to accept a national dual contract (NDC) for next season or move out of Wales, and he turned in a storming display to inspire his side.

Number eight Dan Baker returned to the starting line-up in the same week he signed an NDC.

Lock Alun Wyn Jones impressed on his return to Ospreys action after World Cup duty with Wales
Lock Alun Wyn Jones impressed on his return to Ospreys action after World Cup duty with Wales

It was the Ospreys who dominated the early stages and it took just nine minutes to get their first try through centre Spratt, as he swapped passes with Dafydd Howells wide out on the right.

The home side were looking more inventive than in previous games, and Matavesi grabbed the next score on 18 minutes, running on to a chip down the middle and bursting clear from 35 metres for Biggar to convert.

Walker was next on the scoresheet, squeezing in at the corner on 26 minutes after a break by Dan Evans well supported by skipper Jones.

Carlo Canna got Zebre on the scoreboard with a penalty but Biggar missed with a long-distance shot to leave it 17-3 at the interval.

The Italians came out more strongly for the second half, with flanker Johan Meyer held up twice close to the Ospreys' line.

But Tipuric scored the bonus-point try on 58 minutes, put over by a Matavesi break after some excellent combined handling.

And Walker cut through for his second with a lovely angle off the shoulder of Biggar, who converted.

Replacement hooker Parry, who replaced a limping Scott Baldwin early in the second half, notched up Ospreys' sixth try, which was converted by Davies.

It all added up to some reassurance for the Ospreys faithful in the build-up to Europe, with flanker Tipuric getting the man-of-the-match award.

Man of the match Justin Tipuric told BBC Wales Sport:

"We're not used to losing so it was nice to get the bonus-point win and look forward to next week against Exeter.

"Our discipline was better than in Glasgow and we looked after the ball in the contact area - we were just better as a team, it's taken a bit of time to gel back together but we're on the up."


Ospreys: Dan Evans; Dafydd Howells, Jonathan Spratt, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Brendan Leonard; Paul James, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Lloyd Ashley, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), James King, Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Ryan Bevington, Cai Griffiths, Olly Cracknell, Sam Underhill, Tom Habberfield, Sam Davies, Ben John.

Zebre: Guglielmo Palazzani; Kayle Van Zyl, Giulio Bisegni, Matteo Pratichetti, Leonardo Sarto; Carlo Canna, Luke Burgess; Andrea Lovotti, Andrea Manici, Dario Chistolini, Quintin Geldenhuys, George Biagi (capt), Jacopo Sarto, Johan Meyer, Andries Van Schalkwyk.

Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea De Marchi, Pietro Ceccarelli, Federico Ruzza, Emiliano Caffini, Marcello Violi, Michele Visentin, Edoardo Padovani.

Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU).

Assistant referees: Sean Brickell, Greg Morgan (both WRU).

Citing commissioner: Jeff Mark (WRU).

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