Monday 20 November 2017

Time for Ospreys to step up and perform

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

POOL TWO is described by Joe Schmidt as one of two groups of death in the Heineken Cup, and the so-called big three's games against Treviso could well be a deciding factor.

The Italians are an improving force in the Pro12 and won at Edinburgh last weekend, but qualifying from the pool appears beyond them when their rivals are Leicester, Toulouse and the Ospreys.

Wales' problem is the inverse of Ireland's -- they cannot turn their international success into regional gains. The Ospreys form the backbone of Warren Gatland's Grand Slam winners but have yet to reach a Heineken Cup final.

And they are even less likely to now after losing Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe and Paul James. The Welsh regions are struggling with reduced funding.

Ospreys welcome Justin Tipuric back, while hooker Richard Hibbard and Lions prop Adam Jones have also been declared fit.

Verdict: Ospreys

Ospreys -- R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, K Fotuali'l'; R Bevington, R Hibbard, A Jones, AW Jones (c), I Evans, R Jones, J Tipuric, J Thomas. Reps: M Dwyer, D Jones, A Jarvis, G Stowers, S Lewis, R Webb, M Morgan, T Isaacs.

TREVISO -- L McLean; L Nitoglia, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, T Iannone; K Burton, T Botes; A De Marchi, L Ghiraldini, B Roux, A Pavanello (c), V Bernabo; S Favaro, A Zanni, M Vosawai. Reps: E Ceccato, I Fernandez-Rouyet, P Di Santo, F Minto, P Derbyshire, R Barbieiri, F Semenzato, A Pratichetti.

REF -- N Paterson (SRU).

Ospreys v Treviso,

Live, Sky Sports Interactive, 8.0

Irish Independent

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