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Monday Morning Quarterback View - Good, Bad & Ugly!

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

The Good

An authoritative win based on scrum, defence and kicking dominance was almost calculated to make us long-suffering Ospreys supporters go to bed on Saturday night feeling nostalgic. Nicky Smith’s beat down of the absurdly overrated Simon Berghan was redolent of the days of peak Paul James smashing up Tony Buckley, even if Smith wasn’t nearly rewarded enough for his efforts by Andrew Brace. Tom Botha dealt well with a dynamic opponent after having disappointed in the Dragons match at the Liberty and deserves credit while Sam Parry continues to look like a glue player whom we’ll need when the internationals are sequestered at Pivacamp for the foreseeable. 

The defence looked far quicker off the mark and we saw some brilliant selection of tackles, particularly from the pack, never allowing Edinburgh to settle or for the Scottish side to stack up breaks upon breaks. Hamish Watson was particularly well corralled and one brutal gainline stop late in the game from Kieran Williams and Lydiate symbolises the containment of a carrying game that has been a strong feature in the Cockerill era. A word of caution on the defence though - our backline still looks vulnerable. Luke Morgan’s struggles to defend space fuelled the try we conceded and we’re still hiding Myler from lineout. That is not a strategy that will work reliably.

What did work reliably was the kicking strategy of the halfbacks which easily eclipsed the efforts of their counterparts. With over 60% territory in the second half, Myler and Webb won the battle of the boot and with it, set the foundation for a win far more comfortable than supporters would have dared hoped for. After limping through the last few years with Aled Davies and Luke Price undermining the team, the Ospreys enjoyed the benefit of not being beaten by the incompetence of the starting halfbacks. 

The Bad

Veteran Ospreys-watchers will recognise the recurrence of a familiar theme: an inability to convert attacking mauls into points. Booth will surely not be happy with the failure to convert the chances afforded to the team in the final quarter. Edinburgh are a difficult side to maul on, coached as they are by Cockerill, but the inability of the Ospreys to diagnose the problems posed by Schoemann’s position on the edge of the maul could, it might be argued, have cost us a bonus point. Protheroe’s decisive third try came from, paradoxically, our weakness in establishing momentum - while we must credit Webb’s quick thinking, the try was ultimately more down to laughable short side defence by Graham and Shiel, and better opponents will not be so generous. With Carl Hogg being moved on, is this going to be an Achilles’ Heel for us again?

The Ugly

Well, the weather, obviously. The torrential rain and bitter cold turned the fixture into a no-go for our phase attacking game. Wet weather rugby dictates that your kick to carry ratio changes and we certainly showed that, kicking 36 times to only 22 gainline carries. Fans wanting to see how the attack fares under Brock James will have to wait at least a week to see if they can glimpse the green shoots of recovery. Myler gets a pass for some less than accurate handling due to the sheer filthiness of the conditions but there remains a nagging suspicion that the team will struggle to spark attacking off ten this year.

Onto Ulster with a precious win, based on grit, guts and tactical supremacy. And the Turks lost against 14 men. It’s just a start but it’s a good one.

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