Rampant Ospreys crush Treviso
December 6, 2008
Tommy Bowe crashes over for one of his five tries at the Liberty Stadium
© Getty Images
Ospreys romped to a record Heineken Cup win after tearing Treviso apart at the Liberty Stadium. Ireland wing Tommy Bowe set the tone by scoring three of his five tries in 23 minutes as Ospreys eased past their previous best Heineken Cup victory of 48-17 against Ulster last season.
Scotland international Nikki Walker added a try double, and with flanker Jonathan Thomas also touching down before the break, Pool Three whipping boys Treviso trailed 40-8 at half-time. The second period proved more of a contest as Treviso restricted Ospreys to a Lee Byrne try during the third quarter, but substitute Shane Williams then pounced to give his team an inevitable half-century of points.
Replacement hooker Ed Shirvington and Bowe completed the rout with touchdowns nine and 10 - fly-half James Hook booted nine conversions - while Treviso had to content themselves with an early Marius Goosen try and Andrea Marcato's 39th-minute penalty.
Treviso will do wonders to avoid another hefty defeat in next weekend's return fixture, but Ospreys know their quarter-final ambitions should rest on the outcome of January appointments with Perpignan and Leicester.
Wales captain Ryan Jones was the most notable absentee from an Ospreys side which included several of his international colleagues fresh from last Saturday's stirring 21-18 Millennium Stadium success against Australia. The Ospreys skipper was sidelined due to a foot injury, but there was better news surrounding Jones' fellow Lion Gavin Henson, who will resume training next week following an Achilles problem which sidelined him for the autumn Tests.
Treviso, meanwhile, paraded former Wasps centre Fraser Waters - man of the match in the 2007 Heineken Cup final - with ex-Northampton and Sale back Andy Vilk among their replacements. The Italians, despite recording a solitary victory from their last 21 Heineken games, took a shock sixth-minute lead when wing Goosen rounded off an impressive attack by crossing in the corner.
Perhaps the Ospreys were transfixed by Treviso's fluorescent lime shirts, but they quickly re-focused and drew level after Bowe gathered Hook's kick to touch down. And Treviso were then blown away by three further Ospreys tries during a devastating seven-minute spell that underlined the gulf in class.
Thomas sparked the points burst, then Treviso had no answer to number eight Filo Tiatia's surging midfield run that ended with Byrne handing Walker a scoring pass. The bonus point try - scored by Bowe - arrived after 26 minutes, but Ospreys were in no mood to spare Treviso further misery.
Bowe completed his hat-trick eight minutes before the interval, which made him the first Ospreys player to score three tries in a Heineken Cup game, then Walker pounced following more optional Treviso defending. With Hook converting five of Ospreys' first six tries, the Welsh side hit 40 points at comfortably more than a point a minute, leaving Treviso in disarray.
Marcato kicked a penalty for the visitors during first-half injury time, while Walker limped off to be replaced by the last player Treviso wanted to see - Wales wing wizard Williams. The Ospreys were back in try-scoring mood within two minutes of the restart, and it was another ridiculously easy score after Hook weaved through a gap and Tiatia sent Byrne over.
Treviso coach Franco Smith made a raft of substitutions in an attempt to stem the tide, but replacement hooker Andrea Ceccato only lasted eight minutes before receiving a yellow card. The game inevitably drifted through a quiet phase, especially with Ospreys losing skipper Paul James to the sin-bin, and it was simply a question of how many more tries Ospreys would score.
Waters should have scored for the visitors, but he was brilliantly held up by Williams, who then added an eighth try following superb approach work by centre Andrew Bishop. Two more scores followed, a fifth for Bowe and one for replacement Ed Shervington, giving Ospreys a winning margin of 60 points and leaving Treviso once again reduced to Heineken Cup also-rans.
Ospreys Head Coach Sean Holley was optimistic that Henson will be able to return to action in next weekend's away leg with Treviso. "We are hopeful that Gavin will be available for next weekend," he said. "We will watch him closely in training during the week."
Regardless of whether Henson is fit to return, the Ospreys look certain to be without wing Walker. Holley said, "It doesn't look too brilliant for Nikki, I have to say. It appears to be a hamstring injury, and he is laid up at the moment."
The Ospreys slipped back into gear easily after the international break, something that could have been a worry pre-game. "We are pretty pleased with that," Holley said. "It is mentally and physically demanding for the players coming back from autumn Tests, and it also says a lot about our squad strength in depth. Tommy won man-of-the-match, but I thought James Hook was outstanding. James set the tone of our performance - he showed our intent."
Ospreys: L Byrne (D Biggar 63), T Bowe, S Parker, A Bishop, N Walker (S Williams 41), J Hook, R Wells (R Webb 70), P James, R Hibbard (E Shervington 63), A Jones (C Griffiths 51), I Gough, A Jones (S Tandy 46), J Thomas (T Smith 70), M Holah, F Tiatia (A Jones 60)
Yellow Card: P James (55)
Benetton Treviso: B Williams, E Mulieri (A Vilk 46), B De Jager [capt], F Waters, M Goosen, A Marcato, T Botes, F Sbaraglini (A Vilk 60), G Intoppa (D Vidal 46), P di Santo (A Vilk 67), A Pavanello, C Van Zyl, S Orlando (R Barbieri 34), H Louw (M Gilbride 67), D Kingi
Yellow Card - A Ceccato (55)
Man of the Match: T Bowe (Ospreys)
Referee: Jeromé Garces (France)
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park