Ospreys inched to a 10-0 win over Zebre in the Guinness PRO14 at a wet Liberty Stadium.
Heavy drizzle made for difficult conditions and both teams produced constant errors, with the home side’s discipline and ability to keep hold of the ball close to non-existent.
The only positive for Ospreys head coach Toby Booth was the win as it prevented Zebre doing the double over his team this season.
Josh Thomas kicked a penalty and there was a late try from man of the match Rhys Webb which Thomas improved as Zebre were kept scoreless.
The home side were without veteran fly-half and key man Stephen Myler. Rookie Thomas stepped in as his opposite number Antonio Rizzi missed a sitter of an early penalty.
The Italians then missed two more opportunities. First, they butchered a try down the left wing before Michelangelo Biondelli dropped a pass as he went through a gap.
Zebre dominated the first 10 minutes in heavy Swansea drizzle but they could not score while Thomas also missed his first shot at goal.
Neither side could hold on to the ball for any length of time because they either kept on getting penalised or made errors which turned over possession.
Welsh referee Nigel Owens was the busiest man on the pitch and the Ospreys’ line-out was appalling.
It seemed like there would be an end to the pain when the home forwards drove towards the line on two occasions. First, Sam Cross was penalised before Sam Parry overthrew the line-out.
Ospreys scrum-half and captain Webb – the only player of true Test class on the field and seemingly now unwanted by Wales – took it upon himself to raise the tempo as he set off and kicked ahead.
Webb found hooker Parry, who was penalised for a double movement.
Thomas struck a penalty with the last kick of the first half to finally get the scoreboard moving.
The second 40 wasn’t much of an improvement – it was more of the same, with relentless kicking, Owens penalising at will and a total lack of any free-flowing rugby.
In the empty Liberty Stadium stands, the frustrated bellows of a frustrated Booth could be heard even above the artificial crowd noise.
Replacement Ospreys hooker Ifan Phillips was yellow-carded for entering a ruck from the side, which followed a string of penalties.
Even with a man advantage, Zebre couldn’t score and Webb put the game to bed when he darted down the blindside to score, with Thomas converting.
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