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Ospreys rally to edge Zebre

MATCH REPORT: Ospreys rallied from 0-12 down to fight back for a 34-31 United Rugby Championship victory over Zebre Parma in Swansea.


Justin Tipuric was at his trademark best.  The former Wales star ran, passed, tackled, was peerless at the line-out, put in a terrific tactical kick and won the penalty late on at the breakdown which was to prove crucial by putting them eight points ahead with a couple of minutes remaining.

A revitalised and exciting Zebre out-scored the Welsh team 5-4 on tries and collected two bonus points – Ospreys got one – but their losing streak in the competition, which stretched back to March last year when they defeated the Dragons in Italy, was extended to 27 matches.

There was five tries and 33 points in the opening 25 minutes with Zebre leading 19-14 after blasting out of the starting blocks and into a 12-point lead with tries from wing Simone Gesi and skipper Giovanni Licata, the former’s converted by flyhalf Geronimo Prisciantelli.

Ospreys needed a lift from somewhere and Tipuric and fullback Max Nagy provided it by combining from deep before linking with Dom Morris and Morgan Morris to put scrumhalf Rueben Morgan-Williams over for a scintillating try.

Wing Mat Protheroe’s super strike, again converted by promising fly-half Jack Walsh, put them ahead for the first time but they relinquished the lead when Gesi went over for the second time with Prisciantelli converting.

Nagy scored a terrific try early in the second half for the Ospreys to regain the initiative and they were not to lose it despite the efforts of Zebre.


Substitute prop Nicky Smith, a member of Wales’ World Cup squad, powered over for their fourth try to earn a bonus point with replacement Owen Williams’ conversion making it 31-19.

However, Zebre were not finished and came roaring back with New Zealander Scott Gregory scoring out wide for Prisciantelli to convert to reduce the arrears to five points.

Williams eased nerves with a vital penalty, won by Tipuric at a breakdown, for an unassailable eight-point lead in the time remaining. Gregory did get a second try for Zebre from the final play of the encounter to ensure a deserved second bonus point but time ran out on them.

Player of the Match
Former Wales star Tipuric marked his 201st appearance for the Ospreys with a masterly all-round display as he led them to their first victory of the URC campaign.


Play of the Match
Fullback Nagy fielded the ball deep in Ospreys’ territory and worked a one-two with Tipuric before combining with Dom Morris and Morgan Morris to send scrumhalf Morgan-Williams over for an absolute belter of a try.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Morgan-Williams, Protheroe, Nagy, Smith
Cons: Walsh 3, Williams
Pens: Walsh, Williams

For Zebre:
Tries: Gesi 2, Bigi, Gregory 2
Cons: Prisciantelli 3

Yellow card: Ion Neculai (Zebre, 76)


Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Mat Protheroe, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 James Ratti, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Ethan Lewis, 1 Garyn Phillips.
Replacements: 16 Lewis Lloyd, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 James Fender, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Luke Davies, 22 Keiran Williams, 23 Owen Williams.

Zebre Parma: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Franco Smith Jr, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Giovanni Licata (captain), 7 Giacomo Ferrari, 6 Guido Volpi, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 David Sisi, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Marco Manfredi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 Dylan de Leeuw, 20 Bautista Stavile, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Giovanni Montemauri, 23 Scott Gregory.

Referee: Ian Kenny
Assistant referees: Gareth Newman, Gwyn Morris
TMO: Dave Sutherland

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