Gruff Rees has praised the maturity shown by the Ospreys in their PRO12 win over Leinster on Sunday.
Having trailed by 10 points early on, the Ospreys slowly worked their way back into the game, Matthew Morgan kicking 14 points and Eli Walker touching down as they rattled up 19 points without reply to win, crucially denying their old rivals a bonus point.
Speaking to the press shortly after the final whistle, Rees commented:
“It was a pleasing night for us. There was a lot of maturity shown tonight which is something we spoke about earlier in the week, that we needed it. Going 10-0 down after eight or so minutes you are putting yourself on the back foot but we grew into the game and kept pushing forward.
“We had clear direction, and the halfbacks deserve a good mention. They haven’t had much game time and they have had their frustrations but they bottled that pretty effectively today, taking on board some key messages that we’re trying to drive home to the group.
“After what was clearly a poor first three games, to be where we are in the table at the eight game mark, we can be pretty satisfied. That’s not to say as a coaching team there’s not a lot of frustration about a couple of home losses early doors, but it’s those sort of losses that drive us on as a group.
“There is a distinct split opening up between the top six and bottom six, and we’ve already lost two home games to sides in the top four so tonight was an important one for us. We couldn’t drop more points at home against a fellow contender in that top group. To come off such a bad start to the season, we’ve put ourselves in a healthy place but we’ve got to keep improving, to get where we want to be, and that’s the top four.
“I thought the youngsters in the pack were outstanding, people like Lloyd Peers, Matthew Dwyer, coming in for their first Ospreys starts, it was a great effort. Then you had the likes of Duncan, Stowers, JT and Bearman, they kept us going forward, and when you put someone like Sam Lewis in the mix it’s a real good blend.
“We do a lot of work with our back three in terms of managing the field, when to have a crack and when to be a bit more circumspect with our decisions, and it was obviously the right time to have a go at it when we got the try. The field opened up for Fuss, and when he does go, he’s very elusive. We’ve seen over the last few weeks how he puts others into space effectively, and Eli has run a good, positive support line. He’s looking sharp at the moment as well, but having said that, there were a few poor turnovers in the first half that put us under pressure so it’s that balance between an exciting young talent and just doing the simple things well.
“Jonathan Thomas has been fantastic for us. He’s deserved the eight shirt over the last few weeks before stepping up to the second row today. He’s a fantastic athlete, and today we’ve seen a true Ospreys leader, with good people around him buying in to what we are trying to do as a group.
“I’ve also got to give credit to good Ospreys support today. It was the biggest crowd of the season, which is fantastic. On a Sunday afternoon, its on TV, horrible conditions to come out in, and they were really picking up the noise. When they do that it makes a massive difference and it’s been good to see, this week and last week against Connacht on a Saturday afternoon, and hopefully we can get them to come and support us again on Friday night in the LV.”