Ospreys given Treviso warning ahead of Heineken Cup clash
JONATHAN Humphreys has warned the Ospreys that they must be at their best when they begin their Heineken Cup campaign with games against Treviso and Leicester.
The Ospreys won 34-16 at Zebre on Friday night, a third successive victory in the RaboDirect Pro12 for the reigning champions.
Steve Tandy's men now turn their attention to another Italian side, Treviso, who travel to the Liberty Stadium on Friday for their opening Heineken Cup clash.
A trip to double European champions Leicester awaits the following Sunday, and assistant coach Humphreys has identified the next fortnight as a pivotal period in the Ospreys' season.
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"We've got two massive games coming up, starting with a really difficult game against a Treviso team who have been really impressive this season and got a great win in Edinburgh this weekend," he said.
"We will need to be at our very best if we want to get off to a winning start.
"It's important that we get a good crowd behind us and that they are patient and stay with us if things don't go our way. That's what every team needs if they want to make a mark in Europe.
"We've said all along since the summer that we wanted to be building momentum as we came into October and the Heineken Cup and that's exactly what we've done. Hopefully we can do ourselves justice these next two weeks."
The Ospreys had to dig deep to avoid becoming the victims of a first ever win for Zebre on Friday.
The Pro12s bottom side battled back from 21-6 down to 21-16 before two penalties and a converted try from Dan Biggar finally secured victory for the visitors.
And having already suffered an opening weekend defeat to Treviso, Humphreys was relieved to see the Ospreys steer clear of a second setback in Italy.
"We are pleased with the win," he said. "It's a tough place to come and they made us fight every inch for the victory.
"I thought we showed some patches of real intensity, but we did lose our rhythm a bit in the third quarter which allowed Zebre back into the game.
"They had their tails up and came back to just the one score, but the response from us was excellent.
"When it got tight we could have panicked, but instead the boys were disciplined and went back to the procedures we work on all week long."
There was further good news for the Ospreys — and for Wales — as Adam Jones made his first start of the season on Friday.
The prop, who has become such an important player for his region and country, managed 44 minutes on his return from a knee injury before he was replaced by Aaron Jarvis.
Wing Eli Walker also made his first appearance of the campaign, coming back from summer shoulder surgery to play a full 80 minutes and set up the game's final try for Biggar with a searing break.
"Adam and Eli both came through," Humphreys added. "They are a bit sore, a bit tired, but that's to be expected on a warm night. Overall, it was a good test for us.
"There were some good performances out there. Sam Lewis was outstanding and Dan Biggar did very, very well.
"Matthew Dwyer (who replaced hooker Scott Baldwin at half-time) also stepped up to this level from Bridgend well. We asked him to play a full half of rugby and he did a decent job for us."