As the Ospreys prepare to welcome Cardiff Blues to the Liberty Stadium on New Year's Day (KO 6.30pm), Tommy Bowe says that he's hoping to gain pats on the back from the locals this weekend rather than dirty looks!
The Irish wing has been part of the Ospreylian community long enough to understand the strength of passion and feeling surrounding the Welsh derby fixtures, and he says that he’s aiming to ensure that it’s the home fans who are happy come the final whistle on 1st January.
“This is my fourth year here and you can really see how big these derby matches are to people in the region, not just hardcore supporters but to the wider public really. I’ve really bought into that in my time in Wales, you can see how passionate the players are about these derby matches, and how much it means to the public.
“You can see it when you walk down the road. You win one of these derbies and you’ll have everybody patting you on the back, if you lose they are giving you dirty looks. They don’t hide their feelings, good or bad, so we all know what the results mean in terms of local pride.
“It’s important for after the loss last weekend to give the fans some of that pride back and get one up over the Blues. It’s New Year’s Day, a time when supporters look forward to getting to the game and enjoying a special atmosphere, and we want to ensure that the occasion matches their expectations. There’ll be two strong, well matched teams up against each other, it’s going to be a cracker.”
The two rivals come into the game after enjoying differing fortunes last weekend, the Blues winning their pre-Christmas derby at home to the Dragons before the Scarlets ended the Ospreys long unbeaten run in that particular fixture, but Bowe is predicting an exciting game at the Liberty this time around:
“It’s going to be an entertaining match, it always is between these teams” he insisted.
“Blues will be happy with their win over the Dragons last week and will come down here confident. We’re obviously disappointed about the way it’s gone, that goes without saying really. We’ve had three big games, and in every game we’ve had opportunities that we didn’t take. At the weekend, particularly in the second half, we should have done better. We worked hard after the break to get ourselves back into the game and into a position where we possibly would have been expected to kick-on.
“We were looking good for a spell, looking sharp, but there were a few errors, a penalty or two, and they managed to get their noses that wee bit further in front again To let it slip wasn’t good and we aren’t happy about it but we have to remain positive. It’s very frustrating. The good thing about having these derby games back-to-back like this means we can’t dwell on anything, we have to get our heads together and get back at it.
“We’ve got another massive game this weekend now against a very good Blues team and we’ll be working hard to get ourselves back to winning ways again. The Scarlets had the benefit of a full house and in these Welsh derbies, any big game, a strong home crowd can make a big difference.
“It’s a massive game for us. As players we need to concentrate on our own game at the moment, not what they’ve done in recent weeks. It’s a Welsh derby which brings it’s own pressures, but we’ve got work to do to get our own game in order. We don’t want to think about losing four games on the bounce, particularly with two of them against Welsh sides. It’s very important that we get back to winning ways, particularly so that our supporters can be proud of us. We want to start 2012 on a high.”
Tickets for the game are on sale at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665.