Ospreys prove themselves to cause an opening upset

Ospreys 13 Stade Francais 8
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The Ospreys gorged themselves on some notable prey, opening their Heineken Cup campaign with a shock victory over the French champions yesterday at Liberty Stadium.

The Parisians might have been racked by injuries to key players including captain David Auradou, Agustin Pichot, Mauro Bergamasco and Sylvian Marconnet, but the Welsh region were also minus frontline figures like Lions duo Gavin Henson, Ryan Jones, and the foreign pair Adrian Cashmore and Steffan Terblanche.

This was the sort of shock result which makes the European Cup such compelling viewing. It was certainly a strange affair. There was no score in the first 40 minutes, but 13 points then arrived in first-half injury time.

It had been Stade, wearing pink shirts and blue shorts, who produced the more colourful rugby in the first half and spent the majority of the opening 40 minutes in Ospreys territory.

But in that time full-back Juan Martin Hernandez spurned two penalties and somehow his side failed to finish off plenty of attacks.

The Ospreys suffered a worrying setback when No. 8 Andy Lloyd was carried off in a neck brace after receiving a blow to the head.

Hernandez finally broke the deadlock with a penalty at the third time of asking. But the French side's lead was short-lived as the Ospreys' struggling line-out suddenly produced key ball through Lyndon Bateman. Outside-half Shaun Connor rushed through a gap and put Sonny Parker over under the posts. Connor also converted a penalty to give the Ospreys a 10-3 lead.

Stade Francais were given hope when wing Lucas Borges finished off a blindside move. But Hernandez failed to draw the scores level.

Three minutes later, the Ospreys' cushion was increased from two to five points with a Matthew Jones penalty.

Ospreys: Try Parker; Conversion Connor; Penalties Connor, Jones.

Stade Francais: Try Borges; Penalty: Hernandez.

Ospreys: D Karauna; R Mustoe, S Parker, L Davies, S Williams; S Connor (M Jones 64), J Spice; D Jones (P James 74), B Williams (capt, H Bennett 74, B Williams 82), A Jones (A Millward 64), A Newman (B Cockbain 64), L Bateman, J Thomas, R Pugh, A Lloyd (L Beach 37).

Stade Francais: J Hernandez; L Borges, S Glas (O Sarramea 34), G Messina, J Arias (Mirco Bergamasco 47); A Penaud, J Fillol; R Roncero, D Szarzewski, P de Villiers (capt), A Marchois, M James, S Parisse, R Martin, S Sowerby (P Rabadan 59).

Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England).

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