Head Coach Sean Holley was left to rue what he described as "near misses" and "errors at crucial times" as the Ospreys surrendered their long unbeaten Heineken Cup record at the Liberty Stadium.
As was the case at Wembley last week, the Ospreys were narrowly edged out by English champions Saracens, and there was no hiding the disappointment in the home dressing room after the final whistle. Speaking to the media as he did the obligatory press interviews post-match, Holley acknowledged the efforts of the team, while highlighting where the game was lost.
“The story is all about a couple of near misses and a couple of errors at crucial times that cost us” said Holley.
“We’re hurting. The stats will tell you that we dominated territory and possession tonight, we played all the rugby, and only conceded from a charge down which is frustrating. All credit to Saracens they came down with an outstanding defence. We found it difficult to break them down in the end and we made too many errors, which cost us dearly.
“I can’t fault the players in their effort and their attitude. They really went for it. They didn’t leave anything out on the field so I couldn’t ask much more of them really other than to tidy up a few bits of accuracy.
“Dan has kicked us to plenty of wins, today he missed two that were uncharacteristic of him. I’m not going to criticise him because he’s a consummate professional and a great kicker. We should really have put more points on the board over the line. We fell short a couple of times, Ashley Beck a couple of times, and on another day we’re over but not today unfortunately.
“Their defence was outstanding today, they did what they had to do and it paid off. Some refereeing interpretations were certainly frustrating, I think something I think something like 90% of the scrums ended up in a penalty and we scratched our heads sometimes. We felt Saracens were a little bit illegal at the tackle contest, but we’ve got to deal with that ourselves. We weren’t good enough today.
“We tried to play rugby today. We scored a good try, Ashley Beck was very close for another, that could have made it different. He’s a very good player, a local kid we’ve had since he was 14, like most of the players here, we only had one non-Welsh player started the game today and we’re very proud of that, but we’re desperately disappointed we didn’t get over the line.
“You can’t afford to lose your home games. Treviso and Biarritz will still have a say in things now but we’ve just got to give it our best shot and hope for the best. We’ve lost a proud six-year record, we don’t like losing at home and we don’t lose here often but it’s taken a resolute defence to stop us. We’ve got to go out and do what we can do in the last two games. We won’t lie down, we’ll come out fighting over Christmas and we’ll see what happens in the last two rounds.
“I certainly hope that the fans here tonight can acknowledge the effort that these boys put in for the shirt. They’ve given everything for the cause but fell short against a very good champion team. I know that the players desperately wanted to reward the fans for their magnificent support tonight, the numbers might not have been the highest but the fans in the stadium certainly did their bit and turned up the volume. It’s just desperately disappointing for them that we couldn’t finish the job off.”
For the second week in succession, the talking point in the media room was the scrum area, with questions being asked about the way that area of the room is going, and as was the case at Wembley last week, it was a topic put to the coaches of both teams. Like his Saracens counterpart, Mark McCall, Holley was unable to offer any kind of explanation as to what was going on in that area of the game, saying:
“I don’t know where we are going with it. At one point there were 12 scrums, 11 of them were penalties. We dominated with three penalties in a row five metres out and then there’s one against us. I just don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows do they? It’s frustrating for us, it’s frustrating for the players, it’s frustrating for the fans. I just don’t know what else to say. Are we better off not having them, because it eats into the clock, the playing time and the viewing time?
“They’ve got a difficult job to do, referees. They are instructed to look at different things. I just don’t understand it. Jonathan pointed out to me in the stands the angle of Matt Stevens and Paul James gets yellow carded. I just don’t know is the honest answer.“