Ospreys vs Zebre by MagicRat
The loss of Biggar at fly-half is off-set by Sam Davies who filled in there plenty of times last season when Biggar was off playing for Wales. As a result, Davies ended the season with the third highest points tally in the league, so he is clearly a capable replacement. The absence of Alun Wyn Jones means that young scrum-half Tom Habberfield is the temporary captain and he has a wealth of experience leading at junior levels in the Wales set up, not to mention the clever kicks that he utilises. Elsewhere in the squad are three other people who have captained the Ospreys at various times, so there will be no shortage of leaders on the field for the side from Swansea.
Zebre, as one of the two Italian teams in the league, are usually competing with their compatriots not finish bottom of the table and they managed it last season. This season, however, they appear to have made a few changes and brought in more foreign talent but these new additions could new time to gel together. Furthermore, after Mauro Bergamasco's departure last year, his brother Mirco followed suit rcently and they were both key players and perhaps more importantly leaders that the team looked up to.
Having met eight times before Ospreys lead the head-to-head convincingly with seven wins to Zebre's one, inlcuding both matches last season that saw them win by 17 in Italy and 33 at home. Ospreys lost five at home last season but two of those came early on in their first two home matches but the key to this bet is that Zebre don't travel well at all.
Zebre managed just one win away from home last season and that was in their away encounter with their fellow Italians, Bennetton Treviso. Elsewhere they really struggled, resulting in the managing to score just 71 points in 11 away matches and they were shut out five time and limited to 10 points or less in a further two matches, including the one against Ospreys. They also gave up more points than anyone else in away matches having conceded 402 points.
Ospreys are clearly not full strength coming into the opening game of the season but I don't see enough in Zebre to cause an Ospreys side at home many problems, so Ospreys should wi this one comfortably.
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