Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Ospreys v Zebre

James Andrew 2 Sep 2017

Ospreys kick off their Guinness PRO14 campaign at Liberty Stadium against Italian side Zebre at 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon. The Welsh side will be hoping to go one better than last year after coming up short at the semi-final stage, while Zebre will look to improve on their feeble last-place finish last time out.

What’s at stake? This is the first Guinness PRO14 game Zebre enter into after their takeover by the Italian Rugby Federation in July, and the Parma-based club will want to start well to improve on their three victories last year under new coach Michael Bradley. Ospreys will be looking to get their PRO14 campaign off to a strong start at home to the Italian minnows in Swansea and reach this year’s final after losing 23-3 to Munster last year.

Team news (Ospreys): Canadian winger Jeff Hassler has recovered from a 10-month layoff caused by Achilles and knee injuries and makes the starting XV. Sam Davies, however, can only make the bench after battling with a groin problem.

Team news (Zebre): There are fresh faces in the Zebre forward pack as number eight Giovanni Licata and second row David Sisi make their debuts. This will also be fullback Matteo Minozzi’s first PRO14 match. Gabriele de Giulio replaces Giovanbattista Venditti on the wing as the latter recovers from a concussion problem.

Talking points: Irishman Michael Bradley will take up the reins of Zebre to try and turn around the fortunes of the side who have finished bottom in all but one of their campaigns to date. Tommaso Castello will captain the Italian side from inside centre. Meanwhile for Ospreys Keelan Giles will have a spring in his step after the 19-year-old winger signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him at Liberty Stadium until 2020 following an impressive breakthrough season which featured no less than 14 tries in 19 games.

Key Battle: Welsh hooker Sam Parry scored a hat-trick of tries – two of which came from mauls – as Ospreys ran away 59-5 winners in this fixture last year, so the (mix)match-up between the Ospreys and Zebre front rows will be important in deciding the dynamics of the game. Andrea Lovotti and co therefore may have their work cut out among the Zebre forwards.

Key stat: Zebre conceded by far the highest number of points – 773, including 105 tries – in last year’s PRO12, something that must be remedied drastically this season. The next highest was fellow Italian side Benetton Treviso’s 664 points conceded.

Did you know? Loosehead prop Paul James is on the cusp of equalling Duncan Jones’s Ospreys record of 223 appearances for the Swansea side.

Ospreys: D Evans; K Giles, B John, C Allen, J Hassler; J Hook, T Habberfield; P James, S Parry, M Fia; B Davies, R Thornton; O Cracknell, J Tipuric, D Baker.

Replacements: S Otten, N Smith, R Jones, L Ashley, J King, R Morgan-Williams, S Davies, K Fonotia.

Zebre: M Minozzi; G Bisegni, M Bellini, T Castello, G Di Giulio; C Canna, M Violi; A Lovotti, O Fabiani, D Chistolini; D Sisi, G Biagi; D Minnie, R Giammarioli, G Licata.

Replacements: T D’Apice, A De Marchi, R Tenga, L Krumov, J Sarto, G Palazzani, T Boni, C Garrney.

Match officials – Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU). Assistant Referee 1: Stuart Berry (SARU). AR2: Robert Price. (WRU) TMO: Non-televised game.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Giles at the double as Ospreys hold off Zebre

Paul Eddison 2 Sep 2017

Keelan Giles grabbed a double to get the Ospreys off to a winning start to the Guinness PRO14 season, but they were pushed all the way by Zebre before running out 22-13 winners.

In an entertaining game at the Liberty Stadium, the Ospreys looked to be in control when they took a 15-3 lead in to half-time, but after Carlo Canna’s late score, Zebre threatened a comeback win.

Instead it was the Ospreys who struck at the death, Giles going over for his second of the game to seal the victory.

Led by the returning James Hook, the Ospreys needed just two minutes to take the lead as they found a way through the Zebre defence.

Hook was at the heart of it, spreading the ball wide for Justin Tipuric, and he in turn fed Giles who celebrated his new contract with a try.

Hook couldn’t convert, and Zebre were able to cut the deficit to two points not long after thanks to the boot of Canna after an extended period of possession.

Things got worse for the Ospreys when they lost Ben John to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle in the air, but Zebre were unable to make that extra man count.

Instead it was the Ospreys who stretched their lead midway through the half with a Hook penalty making it 8-3.

That looked to be it for the scoring in the first half but a Tipuric turnover got the Ospreys back on the front foot, and on the stroke of half-time, Maafu Fia was able to force his way over from close range, with Hook converting.

Canna cut the deficit back to nine points early in the second half, but Zebre then lost George Biagi to a yellow card for a neck roll.

However just like their opponents in the first half, the Ospreys couldn’t take advantage of their extra player, and instead it was Zebre who looked the more threatening.

One long period of possession eventually ended with the ball being turned over, but they got right back into it with ten minutes remaining.

Ciaran Gaffney caused the initial danger, and while Giles was able to bring him down, Canna was on hand to finish off the move, converting his own try as Zebre trailed 15-13.

The Italians looked like they might be on course to spring a surprise but instead the Ospreys finished with a flourish as Giles went over for his second.

It came from a delightful kick through by Sam Davies, with the fly-half also adding the conversion to make it a two-score game once again.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138