Bonus point defeat is the 'best worst result'

Director of Coaching Scott Johnson admitted that "disappointment is the dominant emotion" following the Ospreys five-point defeat to Saracens at Wembley, but he urged players and fans alike to get ready to go for it again in the rematch at the Liberty on Friday evening.

It was an evening of ups and downs as a tight contest ebbed and flowed, but ultimately Saracens were able to hold out for a crucial win that allowed them to take control at the top of Pool Five, moving clear of the Ospreys, Biarritz and Treviso at the halfway stage, but Johnno insisted that there’s still everything to play for.

Speaking after the final whistle, he said:

“Disappointment is the dominant emotion I think. We’re disappointed but the competition being what it is, it’s probably the ‘best worst’ result we could have. There’s a pretty quick turnaround now, we’ll look at it and see we didn’t do ourselves justice, but at the end of the day resolve got us a point and that’s a quality that I like.

“You’ll talk about putting it right, but these are one of the premier teams in the Premiership. You have to give credit to the opposition as well. To come up here and just expect to win, I don’t think that’s paying due credit to the opposition, this is a tough tournament, we’re in a tough group and they are a quality side. We’re not going to take them lightly at home, playing there doesn’t just give us a divine right to walk up there and win, we’ve got to make sure we do our job well. This is a quality side we’re up against – and we’re a quality side.

“We came here with a game plan, we knew what we wanted to do, but were slow out of the blocks which meant we were always chasing the game and that’s something we won’t accept. Certain key areas of our games weren’t at our best and when you play a quality team like Saracens and some things aren’t firing, then you know that it’s going to be tough.

“It’s very easy to be hard on yourself though, but when we look back on tonight we have to acknowledge that there was plenty good about what we did. I think we asked plenty of questions of them, we looked pretty dangerous when we were able to not just get our hands on the ball but to keep it and we worked two very good tries.

“Saying that, our discipline let us down at times, our defence maybe wasn’t what we would expect of ourselves in the first half, and that made it hard for us to build any momentum. What did impress was the resolve in this team, and the desire to fight for the cause. They certainly don’t give up and I think the Ospreys supporters here today would certainly appreciate that.

“We had a large following in the stadium and they made a big impression, that’s for sure, and the guys appreciated it. It’s just a shame at that end we couldn’t quite give them what they wanted. Just as the players have to pick themselves up and go for it all over again on Friday night so do the fans and we’ll need them to be with us all the way, making that kind of noise again and really showing their loyalty to the team.

“We’re very proud to represent them and want them to be proud of us. The Liberty isn’t an easy place for teams to come, but we’ve all got a big part to play if we are going to keep that unbeaten record going.”

Asked about the scrummaging situation, which had seen a number of puzzling decisions go against both teams, Johnson was forthright in his opinion.

“Scrums have become a lottery of all proportions” he said.

“It’s getting to the point of being farcical, it is. I can tell you straight away, I may not be a scrum guru but I can tell you that the illegalities weren’t all one way in that game. We’re playing off about two scrums a match, each side, it’s just short arm, free kick, penalty. That’s all it is. We may as well just sit there, toss a coin and say ‘who’s got it this time?’. I’m sitting on the touchline saying ‘it’s a penalty to them, it’s a penalty for us’. This is before it’s going down. That’s the stage we’ve got to. We’ve got to do something about the scrums because it’s become farcical. Clearly it’s not working.

“When you are playing off that number of scrums in the game you’ve got to look at the issue here. It’s a game for all shapes and all sizes? I’m sure both sides feel the same, both coaches feel the same. You get a penalty or a free-kick and you’re not sure what to do here. It’s an absolute lottery. It’s got to a farcical stage.”