Ospreys silenced the home crowd to claim the scalp of Italian side Treviso at their fortress Stadio di Monigo, securing a 24-19 to exact revenge for last season’s defeat – again on the opening weekend of the RaboDirect PRO12 season.
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy was under no illusions about the task facing his team in their season opener.
Last term they struggled to gain any momentum in their season after losing their first three games and Treviso were unbeaten at home against Welsh clubs – an ominous statistic of which Tandy was all too aware.
Tandy was missing seven players through injury while Tito Tebaldi was making his full debut and Joe Bearman his 50th appearance.
And Treviso took the early initiative when Alberto Di Bernardo threaded a 12th-minute penalty moments after a speculative early drop goal had sailed wide.
But Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar restored the deadlock and then the game transformed in the visitors’ favour when Scott Baldwin crashed the line for the first try in the 23rd minute, a score Biggar duly converted.
Di Bernardo started the second half as he finished the first with a well-taken penalty to put the hosts back ahead, Treviso reaping dividends for pressurising and forcing their visitors to make careless mistakes.
But the game always stayed close and competitive and Biggar’s superbly struck drop goal restored Osprey’s slender one-point advantage in the 49th minute.
Treviso were making Ospreys work and cover ground but mistakes crept into their game and their Welsh opponents took full advantage.
Ben John put distance between the sides with a 56th-minute try and while Biggar missed the resulting conversion, he made amends with his second drop goal in the 62nd minute.
With a nine-point lead established, Ospreys survived a long period of pressure as Treviso surged forward at the urging of a restless 5,000 strong crowd.
And Simone Favaro drove in from close range – Ospreys will be less than happy with their defending – which Di Bernardo converted to reduce the visitors lead to just three points with 15 minutes remaining.
Biggar missed a late penalty to settle nerves but made amends with a well-threaded kick just two minutes later that ended the scoring.
Ospreys coach Tandy – while delighted with the winning start away from home – will certainly be less than impressed with the moment of field position his side surrendered in the closing stages.
But as Treviso piled forward in search of the score that could have levelled or won the game, Ospreys defence coped well under extreme pressure.
And while there is undoubtedly work to do on discipline, Tandy will have no arguments with a winning start at such a tough venue, especially with an equally demanding road trip to Leinster next on the schedule.