Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Pace, power, accuracy, cohesion, fight, passion, skill and flair are just a few of the things needed to play professional rugby and in this particular game one side has shown bags of those qualities whilst the other sadly has not.
The first half was all about Zebre who made yards for fun and breaks because they could, and they were not even forced to defend their own try line. The game started with the home team kicking off and they quickly won a penalty when Fia did not roll away at the breakdown. Then Zebre won another penalty that was kicked at goal and it was successful giving them a 3-0 lead after just three minutes.
The throwing demons of Dewi Lake returned tonight as he both overthrew and underthrew repeatedly allowing Zebre simple turnovers. Zebre almost scored from one such turnover as the Ospreys defence made a hash of clearing the ball but fortunately Scott Williams grounded the ball to prevent a try. Zebre continued to attack from the 22 drop out and after a succession of penalties, they finally managed to cross the Ospreys line after narrowing the Ospreys defence (sound familiar?) and Cai Evans, not long on for the injured Dan Evans, was beaten by the pass. The conversion was successful and after 15 minutes, Zebre led 10-0.
Another Lake-inspired turnover at the lineout was to lead to Zebre’s second try as they went through the phases before the Zebre outside half beat the last Ospreys defender for their second try. The conversion was successful and Zebre led 17-0.
It was not until the 34th minute did the Ospreys bother the scoreboard when Josh Thomas kicked a penalty goal to make it 17-3. From the resulting kick off and after an exchange of kicks, Ospreys won another penalty that Thomas kicked for goal but unluckily he hit the post and Zebre cleared to touch. Another Lake underthrow gave away more prized possession and territory and again Zebre were able to clear. The ignominious first half even ended with an Ospreys knock-on which was completely symbolic or rather shambolic way in which the Ospreys went about their first half business.
The second half started much like the first with poor basic skills on view from the Ospreys and they were further punished when Morgan-Williams was caught at the back of a retreating scrum and the Ospreys were somewhat harshly penalised for coming in at the side. This penalty sailed through the posts to extend the Zebre lead to 20-3.
Eventually the Ospreys began to wake up and managed to get the next score after some decent attacking phases and the newly on Gareth Thomas scored a close range try that Thomas converted to make it 20-10 after 53 minutes. Just before the try was scored, Harri Morgan, Will Griffiths, Tom Botha and the aforementioned Gareth Thomas had come on for Morgan-Williams, James King, Fia and Rhodri Jones. In the scoring of the try, however, Morgan took a bad knock and limped on forcing the Ospreys to play the remainder of the game with centre Callum Carson making his Pro 14 debut at scrum half.
The Ospreys won another penalty that Thomas kicked well into the Zebre 22, but another poor Lake throw allowed Zebre an easy exit and the chance was gone. Eventually, someone on the Ospreys touchline made the call to replace Lake who was responsible for no less than 7 turnovers at the lineout. It might seem harsh, but a hooker’s main role is to hit his lineout jumpers and too many times this season, Lake has failed to do so. He is an excellent player around the park, but he simply has to sort out his throwing or he will fail to realise his potential.
In the 62nd minute, Zebre were awarded a penalty and their outside half stepped up to kick the points to extend the lead to 23-10. The Ospreys then thought they had scored but Thomas’s flat pass to Protheroe was called harshly forward and again the chance was gone.
It was all Ospreys going into the final ten minutes as Zebre were beginning to desperately cling on to their lead. The Ospreys were awarded several penalties and the referee put Zebre on a team warning. The Ospreys went for the push over scrum from a 5-metre penalty but the Zebre scrum held out before the Ospreys were awarded another penalty and Zebre were finally shown a yellow card for repeated infringements. The Ospreys took a quick tap and managed to score when Cracknell forced his way over the line in the 74th minute and Thomas converted to make it 23-17. Could the Ospreys somehow snatch a very unlikely victory in the dying minutes?
Zebre were penalised again and again and the Ospreys threw everything at them, but the game ended when a maul that looked to have been collapsed by Zebre was adjudged to have been an Ospreys collapse and the final whistle blew. The Ospreys players pleaded for another penalty, but the referee was adamant that the game was over. Final score 23-17. The Ospreys did not deserve anything from the game after not even showing up as a team for the first 50 minutes but maybe there are some positives in the way that they finished the game and that young Thomas, Hawkins and Carson all looked okay in the shirt. Next up, the Ospreys welcome the might of Leinster to the Liberty Stadium and if the Ospreys do not show up for the first fifty minutes again, Leinster will hammer them.