After the Lord Mayor's show last weekend, it was always going to be difficult for the Ospreys to repeat the same intensity of performance a week later. All the same, few expected us to be staring down the barrel of an 8-24 deficit just 20 minutes into the game. There was an uncanny resemblance to the first half of last weekend, as some poor kick off receptions and exits gave the opposition a short field on far too many occasions. Again, we could not stop quick recycling and the back five of the pack struggled with matching the foot speed of their opponents in the opening stages conceding two quick tries. The problems were compounded by trying to over play out of trouble, leading to a third Dragons try.
Thankfully, the team was able to adjust and regroup, start winning collisions, get the upper hand at the set piece and from there dictate how the game was played. By half time we had re-adjusted and started playing to the strengths of our back five. The turnaround was quick and clinical, and resulted in a try bonus point by half time, and a 29-24 lead.
The try bonus point having been obtained, the Ospreys came out in the second half knowing all that was now needed was to secure the win. Not surprisingly, the game plan was tighter. Although some of the line kicking left a lot to be desired, the Dragons rarely seriously threatened until the closing minutes, after the Ospreys had already got to fifty points, mainly through the power of their short-range driving game, and The Ospreylian Trust’s sponsored player Morgan Morris had completed a hat trick of well taken close to the line tries.
There is just one more round of the URC league left. A glance at the table shows us in ninth position, and that we have won only two games less than leaders Leinster, one game less than the sides in 2nd to 5th position, the same number of wins as the sides in 6th and 7th and have actually won one more than Edinburgh in 8th position. Even worse, we have won two more games than the Scarlets in 10th and could be overtaken on the final weekend by their bonus point haul. These are the rules of the competition and we have known them since the start of the season so can have no complaint, but it does illustrate that we must get better at securing these bonus points going into next season, if we are to make the knockout rounds. What does seem outrageous is that in the final round all matches do not kick off at the same time. The URC should right put this as it demeans the competition. Any games that affect important qualifying positions must surely kick off at the same time.
We have 12 days to prepare for the Bulls. This will not be easy but hopefully a cup final type atmosphere can be generated. The selection will need to be varied as the Bulls will not be overpowered at the scrum and driving lineout maul as the Scarlets and Dragons were. The selection and particularly the bench selection will need the most explosive players we can field if we are to get the desired result.