Updated: Apr 2, 2021
An away victory at a conference rival for third place is always welcome. The great surprise was that the Ospreys applied a very different tactical approach to what we have seen in recent victories.
Calm conditions, and Booth anticipating that Dean Ryan would have been preparing all week for us to scrummage and maul them into submission, saw a very different first half approach than had been expected. There were glimpses of what Brock James may have in store for us as we get to firmer surfaces, and better weather, but we are going to need to improve markedly on certain aspects of execution and in particular our ball retention if we are going to make the most of this approach. We could have been a lot further in front at the half.
The lack of possession and large penalty count against us in the third quarter made it appear as if we were going to pay for not putting them away in that first half. Fortunately, this team is unlike the Ospreys of previous seasons. They remain composed and find a way to turn the momentum of the game. A great practice ground move try, by the consistently excellent George North, was followed by a reversion to our driving maul for the final try. The Dragons were far more effective at dealing with our driving maul than the Blues had been, and Rhodri Williams made a superb covering stop to deny us a try bonus point from the maul on the final whistle.
It would be remiss to comment on how comfortable the young Joe Hawkins looked at this level. If a Martian had just landed and told there were three international centres on the pitch, I doubt he would have immediately picked out Hawkins as not being one of those three.