Van Wyk's try not enough as Ospreys' late surge floors Zebre
MATCH REPORT: Ospreys were forced to dig deep and staged an impressive comeback, beating Zebre 28-24 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Zebre led 24-14 after 63 minutes but quickfire tries from Morgan Morris and Reuben Morgan-Williams ended their hopes of a first United Rugby Championship win since last April.
Ospreys were buoyed by their excellent European form having reached the knockout stage of the Champions Cup for the first time since 2010.
The visitors started like a house on fire as they race to a 14-0 lead.
Wing Luke Morgan ran a superb line and flank Harri Deaves kept his position out wide to cross on only his second URC start this season.
Jack Walsh added the conversion and Ospreys claimed a second try after six minutes.
This time the ball was swept to the left through several pairs of hands for centre Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler to stroll in unopposed.
Walsh’s kick took him past 50 URC points this term and Ospreys led 14-0.
It looked as if it was going to be a difficult match for Zebre, but they reduced the deficit halfway through the first period when Kobus Van Wyk accepted Tiff Eden’s long pass to make the corner.
Ten minutes later Zebre produced a wonderful try after wing Jacopo Trulla pounced on an Ospreys mistake.
Forwards Josh Furno and Luca Andreani kept the move going and number eight Taina Fox-Matamua cut back on a delightful angle, with Eden adding the extras.
It got even better for Zebre as Fox-Matamua took Leonard Krumov’s pass for his second try inside the space of five minutes. Eden’s successful kick gave the Italians a 19-14 interval lead.
Zebre claimed their fourth try – and a bonus point to boot – nine minutes into the second half.
Forward pressure told as Chris Cook flicked a clever reverse pass to Andreani, whose strength took him over the line at the corner.
Zebre lost Fox-Matamua to injury and his departure was to prove crucial as Ospreys seized the initiative.
Morris ploughed over from close range and replacement Stephen Myler’s conversion cut the gap to three points.
Ospreys immediately hit the front following Keelan Giles’ superb footwork near the touchline.
The wing somehow found a yard to fire a return pass to Morris and scrum-half Morgan-Williams was on the number eight’s shoulder to register the decisive bonus-point try which Myler converted.
Tries: Van Wyk, Fox-Matamua 2, Andreani
Cons: Eden 2
Tries: Deaves, Thomas-Wheeler, Morris, Morgan-Williams
Cons: Walsh 2, Myler 2
Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Franco Smith Jr, 12 Tommaso Boni (captain), 11 Jacopo Trulla, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Josh Furno, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Giampietro Ribaldi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Alessio Sanavia, 18 Riccardo Genovese, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Ratko Jelic, 22 Damiano Mazza, 23 Geronimo Prisciantelli
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Harri Deaves, 6 Jack Regan, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Nicky Smith (captain)
Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 James Fender, 20 Tristan Davies, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Iestyn Hopkins
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Clara Munarini (Italy) , Riccardo Angelucci (Italy)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
*Sources: PA & Rugbypass