The Ospreys prepare to face a “quality” Munster outfit in the Guinness PRO12 semi-final at “one of the toughest places to go” – but Baldwin says they are looking forward to the challenge.
After 22 rounds of the regular PRO12 season it comes down to just four teams battling it out to take the championship crown this month, with Munster hosting the Ospreys and Leinster entertaining the Scarlets, with two places in the final on Saturday 27th May up for grabs.
For the Ospreys, it’s been a frustrating end of the season that has seen them lose their grip on a top two spot and a home semi-final, having to travel to Limerick next weekend instead of staying at the Liberty Stadium. Despite that, hooker Scott Baldwin insists that there has been a positive mood in the air at Llandarcy this week.
“It’s been really disappointing over the last month of the season” Baldwin acknowledged.
“We can’t dwell on that. Thankfully, what we’ve done over the course of 22 games means we are in the play-offs and we’ve got a tough game in front of us next weekend. Knock-out rugby is just that. It’s a one-off game that we can look forward to. Form goes out of the window, we’ve had a week to freshen up and refocus before stepping up now as the game gets closer.
The size of the task facing the Ospreys is clear. Munster have lost just three times in the PRO12 all season, just once at Thomond Park, but Baldwin believes that the Ospreys can rise to the challenge.
Indeed, they head there with a pretty decent record in Munster of late. The last seven times that the two sides have met in Ireland, in Limerick and in Cork, sees them tied on three wins apiece and one draw. At Thomond, where they last played in the 2015 semi-final, it’s two wins apiece and one finishing all-square.
“Thomond Park is up there with the toughest places to go in Europe so we know the size of the challenge” said Baldwin.
“It’s not about rocking up on a Saturday afternoon thinking we can win the game, it all starts well before that in training. We’ll be looking at hopefully having two or three senior players coming back into the mix, experienced players who will give us a big boost just being in and around training, never mind when we run out at Thomond.
“We aren’t going into the unknown, we know what’s in store for us as we’ve played there plenty of times. Go back two years ago to the semi-final we lost, we were bitterly disappointed at not getting the result there, but there are plenty of players in the squad who have won out in Munster.
“We know we can do it, regardless of what has happened with results and performances of late. We also know that unless we are at our best then it’s all going to be just talk as anything less and we will be in for a long and difficult night.
“Munster have had a great season, they are a quality team, and finished the season in first place. That’s the size of it for us but we are looking forward to going there and testing ourselves in a one-off game.”
We currently have tickets available for this game at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets, which remain on sale until 5pm on Wednesday 17th May.