Despite watching the Ospreys notch up an impressive victory over European heavyweights Munster at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night, Backs Coach Gruff Rees has told the players that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The Ospreys came out on top, winning 30-15 with tries from Richard Fussell and Richard Hibbard to go with a penalty try won by a dominant pack, Dan Biggar also kicking 15 points.
As pleased as he was to continued improvements from the Ospreys after a sluggish start to the new season, when he spoke to the press post-match Rees was quick to highlight what he called “a few dodgy periods” as well as giving the team a pat on the back for the way they worked hard to secure an impressive result.
“We showed some slight progression from last week” was his immediate reaction.
“There was lots of positive intent as there always has been, but we showed a little bit more common sense in what we’re doing. We were good in terms of physicality around the contact area, to keep us going, allowing us to put them on the back foot for longer periods.
“That praise is not withstanding a few dodgy periods in the middle when we had a bit of looseness about our game. We have to go up another notch. We were pleased tactically with the first 25 but were disappointed with the last 15 going into half-time. We spoke honestly with the players that we needed to sharpen up and push things on, which we did to a certain extent in the second half, but even so perhaps there were further opportunities that we didn’t put away.
“We look at our average points per 22 entry and it’s not anywhere near where it should be at the moment. That’s a big focus for us in training. We are reducing our turnover rate but even so we need to be more clinical and show a bit more patience. Sometimes you get these games that can loosen up like it did at times tonight and you do get carried away with it.
“There were three or four cheap turnovers, which I’m disappointed with because we just forced what wasn’t even a 50/50. If we can keep hold of it for longer periods, and I’ll refer back to the end of last season when we were going through long phases of play, you do get your rewards. We’ve got to just keep hammering that home.
“We looked heavily in the week at the way Rob Penney is trying to evolve the Munster style to his credit, and it was a constant challenge defensively for us. It was perhaps different to a traditional challenge against Munster but it was where the boys known they’ve been in a hell of a game, perhaps a different type of a game to normal. I think it’s a promising season for Munster, they are still riding high in the league and I sincerely believe they’ll be up there in Europe as always.
“It’s another building block for us in Italy next week to get better. We’ve spoken about the looseness tonight from a technical point of view where we weren’t as crisp. It’s a different type of opposition to tonight clearly, the kind we haven’t always dealt with effectively in the past, going to Italy.
“Obviously there’s Treviso a few weeks ago, but even when we look to the two Aironi away games previously we’ve been turgid and dragged down in games we could have lost so we’ve got to make sure that we apply the same sort of positive attitude to our ball in play. Our physicality and directness has got to come to the fore, not just for next week in terms of our performance and to finish this block of league games in a healthy state, but also as a launch pad for the following weeks after that.”