Updated: Apr 2, 2021
A great start to the Challenge Cup campaign but more importantly the Ospreys are now starting to show some shape. There were good attacking patterns, well-constructed mauls and some real physicality brought by our entire back row, with the returning Morgan Morris showing how badly he has been missed in the carrying game. The defence also showed some strong technical tackling when Castres mounted some physically powerful waves of carriers in the second half, with Dan Lydiate again showing what an incredible defensive player he still is.
It is too early to get carried away this soon into the campaign. Castres fielded a virtual shadow 23 from their first choice T14 side and made a very bizarre decision in the first half not to compete against our line out. Nonetheless, the cabbage patch the Liberty pitch has become should have favoured the heavier Castres team and our maul defence was up there with the best we have seen, even before the Beard who is feared, entered the fray and he turned that aspect up several notches.
The job now is to build on that performance on what will be a totally different surface on the artificial grass at Sixways. Given Worcester's last-minute defeat at Pau it will be interesting to see what type of side they put on the field and how many of our injured returning internationals, excluding Alun Wyn, may be fed into the matchday 23. On a fast, artificial surface, if fit, Tips Webby and Watkin could all improve our options as would Keelan Giles, but given his lengthy lay off Booth has already questioned the wisdom of him making his comeback on a non-grass surface.
One final word for the referee Tom Foley. What a joy to see an official with some understanding of how the laws of the game should be applied. A marked contrast to the rubbish we have to put up with in the Pro 14 where preening peacocks apply the laws in a totally arbitrary and inconsistent manner and regularly spoil the game for paying spectators.