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Monday Morning Quarterback View

After the disappointment of losing a very winnable home game last week, the Ospreys could not afford to back that up with another early season home defeat. Thankfully, they produced their best and most controlled performance of the season to date.


The first half was a tight affair. Glasgow started strongly, but came up against a well organised Ospreys defence, and as the half wore on the Ospreys attack started to function and find the edges. The set piece got stronger as the half progressed, and following a strong line out drive, the ball was spun to Keelan Giles, who produced a sensational finish that only a truly top-class winger could have produced. After such a strong half, two lapses of concentration at the end of the half brought back painful memories of the Lions loss a week ago. A terrible mix up between Lydiate and Webb gave Glasgow the chance to show they could burn the defence on the outside and run in a quality score, but an earlier knock on nullified the try, and a penalty from the resultant scrum, kicked by the ever-reliable Anscombe meant a 10-point swing.


There was still time, unfortunately, for the home side to demonstrate that their kick off exits can be painfully disorganised and conceding short field position from it led to a kickable penalty for the visitors to convert right on half time.


The second half started with another poor kick off exit that handed over the shortest of field positions. A Glasgow score seemed inevitable, but the Ospreys defence stepped up to the plate and held. out. A superb strip tackle from Owen Watkin, whose marshalling of the dangerous Tuipulotu was one of the key reasons for the defence looking so comfortable, provided an open field turnover ball. Rhys Webb saw the opportunity to kick for Keelan Giles who produced another top-class finish, and the Ospreys were starting to look likely winners. Not even the loss of Dan Lydiate to a yellow card could prevent another great defensive series on the line, and with the scrum starting to dominate, some highly skilled play by Collins and Walsh put North in for the third try of the day. The kick off exit issues had been greatly improved when Jac Morgan took charge of the returns, and a try bonus point was now on the cards, if the Ospreys could be clinical and poised. They worked territory and secured a five-yard scrum, allowing replacement front row of Henry Lake and Botha to destroy the Glasgow front row, and Reuben Morgan-Williams darted over for a well taken fourth try.


After such a stellar defensive effort there will be some disappointment in conceding two converted tries in the final two minutes, but that could not take the shine from what was a very professional performance, at a time when such a performance was needed.


The Booth era Ospreys are evolving in front of our eyes, Schematically the defence remains sound, as does the set piece, and an attacking identity and structure, so lacking last season, is starting to emerge, Quick phase ball remains elusive largely because of the struggles in getting across the gain line on the front foot, but the attack is asking questions of opposition defences that were rarely asked last year, and Keelan Giles is becoming a lethal finisher of half chances.


Next week sees a difficult away fixture in Belfast and Team Wales' requirements may mean some selection rotation and standing down of certain players. It will be a tough ask to get anything from the game, but there is no reason to believe there is not a potential away performance in this squad if they can stop putting themselves under unnecessary pressure from poor exiting from the 22.


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