|Ospreys (10) 24|
|Tries: Phillips, Venter, Lake Cons: Myler 3 Pen: Myler|
|Benetton (7) 22|
|Tries: Faiva 3 Cons: Keatley 2 Pens: Keatley|
Ospreys showed remarkable resilience to steal victory against Benetton despite being reduced to 14 men.
Number eight Gareth Evans was red-carded for a dangerous ruck clearout and Ospreys trailed 22-10 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
But Shaun Venter and Dewi Lake scored late tries before Stephen Myler’s last-minute conversion sealed victory.
Benetton hooker Hame Faiva finished on the losing side despite scoring a hat-trick of tries.
It was a first win in four matches for Ospreys while Benetton remain without a victory in five games. The entertaining St Helen’s fixture saw three yellow cards and the sending off with both sides guilty of indiscipline.
With Swansea City having two home football games in four days, Ospreys switched the match from their shared Liberty Stadium home to St Helen’s. The Swansea ground is the current Ospreys training base due to Covid-19.
The Ospreys’ last fixture at St Helen’s was against English Premiership side Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2016.
Wales wing George North was released by Wayne Pivac for his first Ospreys appearance of the season after not being included in the side to face Georgia.
North was sent off in his last appearance for the region, the 20-20 draw with Dragons in August, for a dangerous tackle on Ashton Hewitt.
The 28-year-old played in his 100th international after coming on as a replacement against Ireland in Wales’ Autumn Nations Cup opener last weekend.
The British and Irish Lion came in for Hanno Dirksen, while lock Rhys Davies made his first Ospreys start after replacing injured Wales second-row Bradley Davies, with scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams also returning.
North started superbly with an incisive break in midfield before a pass for centre Keiran Williams was cynically knocked on by Benetton full-back Jayden Howard, who was yellow-carded by Irish referee Andrew Brace.
Ospreys capitalised with a try from a driving mail for hooker Ifan Phillips converted by Myler.
Despite being reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes, Benetton responded through Faiva’s first try, converted by Ian Keatley.
Ospreys almost took the lead after a couple of clever chip kicks from Myler and wing Luke Morgan but the ball just went forward. Myler’s penalty gave Ospreys a 10-7 advantage at the break.
Ospreys flanker Will Griffiths was yellow-carded early in the second half for a professional foul in a ruck and Benetton made the hosts pay with another try for Faiva from a driving lineout and a Keatley penalty.
Evans was sent off after television match official Sean Brickell showed footage to referee Brace of a reckless challenge on Cherif Traore, who was forced of the field. Evans head had appeared to strike the Benetton prop.
Benetton were rampant with the extra man and wing Ratuva Tavuyara was stopped just short of the line before Faiva flopped over for his hat-trick and Keatley converted.
North, centre Williams and replacement hooker Lake attempted to revive the Ospreys with some surging breaks and the hosts gained their reward.
Morgan and Williams released the supporting replacement scrum-half Venter to score with Myler converting.
After Benetton replacement prop Filippo Alongi was yellow-carded in the 77th minute for a no-arms tackle, Ospreys drove over for a Lake try which levelled the scores before Myler added the decisive two points.
Ospreys: Mat Protheroe; George North, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, Keiran Williams, Luke Morgan; Stephen Myler, Reuben Morgan-Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ifan Phillips, Tom Botha, Adam Beard, Rhys Davies, Will Griffiths, Dan Lydiate (capt), Gareth Evans.
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Rhodri Jones, Ma’afu Fia, Lloyd Ashley, Olly Cracknell, Sam Cross, Shaun Venter, Josh Thomas.
Benetton: Jayden Howard; Ratuva Tavuyara, Joaquin Riera, Tommaso Benvenuti, Monty Ioane; Ian Keatley, Dewaldt Duvenage (capt); Cherif Traore, Hame Faiva, Tiziano Pasquali, Irne Herbst, Federico Ruzza, Giovanni Pettinelli, Michele Lamaro, Marco Barbini.
Replacements: Tomas Baravalle, Thomas Gallo, Filippo Alongi, Riccardo Favretto, Alberto Sgarbi, Callum Braley, Luca Petrozzi, Leonardo Sarto.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Aled Evans, Ben Breakspear (both WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU).