Ospreys anticipate Henson's return for rematch
Ospreys 68 Treviso 8
Monday 08 December 2008
The clinical carving up of Treviso in the Heineken Cup Pool Three match at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday suggested that the last thing Ospreys need to worry about is the return of Gavin Henson. Four tries by Ireland winger Tommy Bowe and a consummate performance by James Hook at fly-half in the 10-try rout implied that the Welsh region has enough firepower to cope with the return Italian job next Saturday.
But Henson, who missed Wales' four Autumn Tests after pulling out on the eve of the opener against South Africa because of an injured Achilles tendon, has been cleared to resume full training this week. He has only managed a couple of EDF Cup ties so far this season and saw a specialist last week who pronounced him fully recovered and able to go flat out once more.
That was all the encouragement Ospreys coach Sean Holley needed to prompt him to announce after the trashing of Treviso: "We are hopeful that Gavin will be available for next weekend. We will watch him closely in training during the week."
If Henson does return he and his team-mates will not be expecting such an easy time of it. The first meeting may have been Ospreys' highest score in the European Cup, but Holley said that his charges' failure to score more than one try in the third quarter needed examination and analysis. Treviso were down to 14 men in that first 20 minutes of the second half yet still managed to slow the flood of points, limiting Ospreys to one score by their brilliant Wales full-back Lee Byrne.
Holley added: "Treviso changed the way they played in that period and that is what I think we can expect from them when we go there next Saturday. It will not be a cakewalk next week."
But if Hook takes control of things as he did first time around then Bowe, for one, can count on more tries. And a thumping win, complete with a try-scoring bonus point, will stand Ospreys in good stead with a trip to Perpignan and a home match against Leicester in the offing in the final round of matches in January.
Sadly the Ospreys will be without left-wing Nikki Walker, the Scotland international, for the Treviso trip. He suffered a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time (by which time he had scored two tries) and Holley said: "It doesn't look too brilliant for Nikki, I have to say.
"It appears to be a hamstring injury, and he is laid up at the moment." But before anyone worries, Walker's replacement was none other than Shane Williams, Wales record-breaking try-scorer with 44 in 61 appearances. His 67th-minute try took Ospreys past the half-century mark for the first time in their European history. More will be expected of him this coming weekend.
Ospreys: Tries Bowe 4, Thomas, Walker 2, Byrne, Williams, Shervington; Conversions Hook 9. Treviso: Try Goosen; Penalty Marcato.
Ospreys: L Byrne (D Biggar, 64); T Bowe, S Parker, A Bishop, N Walker (S Williams, h-t); J Hook, R Wells (R Webb, 72); P James (capt), R Hibbard (E Shervington, 64), A Jones (C Griffiths, 52-60 & 72), I Gough, A W Jones (S Tandy, 48), J Thomas (T Smith, 75), M Holah, F Tiatia (C Griffiths, 60-72).
Treviso: B Williams; E Mulieri (A Vilk, 46-60; A Ceccato 60-68), B De Jager (capt), F Waters, M Goosen; A Marcato, T Botes; F Sbaraglini, G Intoppa (D Vidal, 46), P di Santo (A Ceccato, 46-60; 68), A Pavanello (E Pavanello, 46), C Van Zyl, S Orlando (R Barbieri, 35), H Louw (M Gilbride, 68), D Kingi.
Referee: J Garces (France).
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