Updated: Apr 2, 2021
A satisfying day's work at the Cardiff City Stadium. The Ospreys went in with a simple game plan and executed the basics. A dominant set piece was enough to comfortably see off the opposition. The main disappointment was not securing a bonus point that was there for the taking at the end. A key component to how the team controlled the second half was the introduction of Smith and Botha from the bench. Booth was wise to keep the immobile Botha on the bench to start as the Blues’ main threat is out wide but introducing the powerful tighthead along with a fresh Nicky Smith allowed the Ospreys to totally dictate field position and pace of game in the second half.
Only a sympathetic performance from Whitehouse prevented another scrum penalty try but the Ospreys were never in danger of losing the game as soon as Smith and Botha controlled the scrum.
The weekend got better with losses for the Dragons and Glasgow, who are our main contenders for third place in the conference, as Leinster and Ulster are far away in the distance, battling it out to be conference winners. The game next week now becomes hugely important in our quest for a third-place conference position.
There will be no play offs in this shortened 16 game season, with the final being a straight shootout between Conference winners, but third place should secure entry to the higher level of European competition next season.
It will be surprising if Booth deviates much from his winter game plan on what seems likely to be a pudding of a Rodney Parade pitch. It will be interesting to see how he handles what seems likely to be a lengthy absence for Scott Williams. If he is injury free one would expect Owen Watkin to step in. If not, then perhaps moving George North inside and bringing Keelan Giles back in may be considered. As the pitches get firmer in Spring and if there are international calls it might mean more opportunities for quicker younger players like Callum Carson and Joe Hawkins.