Morgan hat-trick in Ospreys rout
PRO14 REPORT: Luke Morgan crossed for a treble as Ospreys claimed a bonus-point 43-0 win over Zebre at the Liberty Stadium on Friday.
The hosts are unbeaten at home in the league this season but it took a penalty try at scrum time to get them in front in a wasteful opening quarter.
And when Morgan crossed acrobatically in the left corner and Sam Davies slotted a penalty, the Ospreys were 15-0 to the good at the interval.
Three times the Welsh region were denied after half-time by the TMO and in the end, it was Morgan who dotted down, this time in the right corner to make the victory secure.
And in the closing stages, they got their bonus point as Morgan got on the end of Davies’ cross kick.
And there was still time for replacement Scott Otten and Olly Cracknell to go over from rolling mauls and put the icing on the cake.
Both sides welcomed back a raft of internationals for this clash and they looked rusty at the outset.
The Ospreys, in particular, were guilty of wasting chances with handling errors while Francois Brummer leaked a penalty wide for the Italians.
But the pressure was beginning to mount as the half wore on and the scrum dominance of the Welsh region made the difference.
They won a penalty try for the home side and a massive Justin Tipuric tackle soon after signalled the men in black meant business.
A second try followed before the break, Morgan finishing acrobatically in the left corner after a long cut-out pass from Scott Williams released him.
Sam Davies could not convert but added a penalty soon after for a 15-0 lead at the break, Zebre’s cause not helped by the yellow card shown to Massimo Ceciliani.
However, the Italians weathered the storm at the start of the second half as Alun Wyn Jones, Morgan and Aled Davies all had tries ruled out by the TMO.
The hosts did get their third score just before the hour mark though, Morgan crossing in the right corner after a fine Davies pass released him.
And in the last ten minutes, the Ospreys turned the screw as Morgan got on the end of Davies’ speculative cross kick and Otten grounded at the back of a rolling maul.
And when Tommaso Boni saw yellow, Cracknell was the final try scorer in a dominant win.
Tries: Penalty Try, Morgan 3, Otten, Cracknell
Cons: Penalty try does not require a conversion, Davies 2, Hook 2
Yellow cards: Massimo Ceciliani (Zebre, 39), Tommaso Boni (Zebra, 82)
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Justin Tipuric (captain), 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Alex Jeffries, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 James King, 21 Harri Morgan, 22 James Hook, 23 Cory Allen.
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Paula Balekana, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 David Sisi, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 Apisai Tauyavuca, 20 Samuele Ortis, 21 Joshua Renton, 22 Maicol Azzolini, 23 Jacopo Bianchi.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Elgan Williams (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)