Ospreys are in the midst of a recording-breaking Guinness PRO12 run, but head coach Steve Tandy knows continuing that is easier said than done as Benetton Treviso lie in wait this weekend.
Table-toppers Ospreys’ only defeat in their last six Guinness PRO12 matches was 46-26 reverse at home to Ulster in round 22 last season, a sequence which has seen them claim a try bonus point in each of those encounters and break the Championship record in the process.
No side has ever started a campaign with maximum points after three rounds but that record looks in danger of being broken on Saturday as Treviso have beaten their Welsh opponents just once in the Guinness PRO12, that coming back in August 2012.
However, the Italian side have triumphed against Ospreys twice since in Europe, all of which leaves Tandy wary ahead of the Liberty Stadium clash.
“The season is all about momentum and we are building nicely off the back of a good summer, and it’s great that we are able to introduce a few more senior boys this weekend who can’t wait to pull the jersey on again,” Tandy said.
“The depth we are starting to develop is important for us over the course of a long season.
“It’s not going to be straightforward on Saturday. Treviso have posed some real problems for Leinster and Ulster over the last couple of weekends, they will be physical and strong up front.
“We need to make sure we are on our game if we want to keep things ticking over, growing that momentum.”
Tandy has named Wales internationals Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar on the bench, and they are joined by Keelan Giles who will make his senior Ospreys debut should he see game time.
Meanwhile, Tyler Ardon makes his 50th Ospreys appearance at No.8 and Tom Habberfield starts at scrum-half and captains the side again, like he did against Zebre.
As for Treviso, they make 15 changes to their last squad, with Luke McLean at full-back and David Odiete and Andrea Buondonno on the wings.
Tommaso Benvenuti and captain Alberto Sgarbi are in the centres while there is a half-back pairing of Edoardo Gori and Tommaso Allan.
The front row consists of Alberto De Marchi, Roberto Santamaria and Tiziano Pasquali.
The locks are Filippo Gerosa and Filo Paulo, while the back row sees Dean Budd, Marco Lazzaroni and Marco Barbini named, with former Ospreys scrum-half Tito Tebaldi on the replacement bench.
Ospreys: Evans, Hassler, John, Matavesi, Howells, Davies, Habberfield, James, Parry, Arhip, Ashley, Thornton, King, Tipuric, Ardon
Replacements: Baldwin, Thomas, Fio, Jones, Cracknell, Webb, Biggar, Giles
Benetton Treviso: McLean, Odiete, Benvenuti, Sgarbi, Buondonno, Allan, Gori, De Marchi, Santamaria, Pasquali, Gerosa, Paulo, Budd, Lazzaroni, Barbini.
Replacements: Bigi, Zanusso, Traore, Zanini, Steyn, Tebaldi, McKinley, Pratichetti
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 12, Ospreys won 11, Benetton Rugby Treviso won 1.
At Liberty Stadium, 7.35pm. Live on S4C
Referee: Lloyd Linton (SRU, 13th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Graeme Wells (SRU), Leighton Hodges (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Jeff Mark (WRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Sam Davies starred for Ospreys as they continued their impressive start to the Guinness PRO12 season with an emphatic 64-10 win over Benetton Treviso.
The Welsh side are the first team to have secured maximum points from the first three games, after earlier wins against Zebre and defending champions Connacht.
Fly-half Davies was at his creative best as he set up tries for Ben John and Jeff Hassler in the first half during a hot 15-minute spell where Ospreys ran riot and scored four times.
And they continued after the break as Dafydd Howells, Keelan Giles and Alun Wyn Jones all scored to rack up the points in a comprehensive win.
Ospreys were boosted beforehand by the return of Wales internationals Jones and Dan Biggar to the match-day squad, with both set to make their first appearances of the season.
But the match did not get off to a good start as flanker Tyler Ardron was injured in the seventh minute and forced to come off on his 50th appearance for the club.
Treviso were physical in the early stages and forced Ospreys back, as both sides exchanged penalties in a slow start.
Ospreys soon got their backs on the ball though, and Davies superbly set up John with a subtle late pass which released the centre through a gap to touch down under the posts.
Hooker Sam Parry, who scored a hat-trick earlier this season, scored minutes later as he powered over from close range after the Ospreys pack forced Treviso into a series of errors, before Davies released winger Hassler with another smart pass.
And the bonus point was secured before the interval as Dan Evans capitalised on some good work by Howells and captain Tom Habberfield to score.
Howells’ acrobatic finish six minutes into the second half inflicted more pain on Treviso, and it was a sign of things to come for the Italian team as replacement hooker Luca Bisi was sin-binned.
It got worse minutes later when a penalty try was awarded and Ian McKinley was show a yellow for a high tackle on Habberfield.
Biggar and Jones then came off the bench to a rapturous reception, and the fly-half was soon on the board as he converted the penalty try seconds later.
He was busy again soon after as Giles showed off his potential by side-stepping his way through to score his first Ospreys try on his debut, before Ma’afu Fia also powered over.
Jones wrapped it up in the final 10 minutes with his first try of the season, before Treviso scored in the final minute through Dean Budd – who charged down a Rhys Webb kick and sprinted upfield.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final
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