First half errors left Ospreys with too much to do at Kingsholm on Saturday but acting Backs Coach, Dan Griffiths, says that despite the obvious frustration there was plenty to be pleased about.
Stepping up the senior coaching role in the LV= Cup for a third time, Griffiths admitted that it was a part of the learning process for a young team featuring seven starters aged 21 or under, but he said that it was crucial for the ongoing development of the squad that they learn from such experiences.
“In the first half there were too many penalties conceded” he said to the press after the game.
“We gave Gloucester field position, we didn’t make them work to get into our 22 and we also put ourselves under a lot of pressure from our exits. Then, you can’t play your game when you’re men down and those yellow cards were killers. We were left chasing the game because of unnecessary mistakes. That’s all part of the learning process for a young group, having clarity when we are under pressure and knowing how to relieve it.
“It’s about backing our structures and not giving away cheap penalties when our defence is under pressure. There’s a lot of rugby in this group and terrific resilience as you can see. To come back at the end and still be in the game, to be asking questions and putting the opposition under pressure like we did at the end is pleasing. I felt that they were hanging on, so despite all the adversity we faced in the game we’ve still given a good account of ourselves and could have got something out of it in the end.
“Obviously we’re disappointed. The way we finished the game, putting the opposition under pressure, it’s frustrating that we’ve left ourselves too much to do. There’s a sense of frustration but a lot of positives to take from today.”
The Ospreys fielded a starting XV with an average age of less than 23 for the always daunting environment of KIngsholm, with the pack which kicked off the game boasting just the one player over 24, Fijian debutant Tevita Cavubati. It meant a youthful, inexperienced squad was up against it versus the Cherry and Whites, but Griffiths insisted any short team pain would lead to long term gain for the region and its loyal supporters:
“We had four debuts, a lot of young boys coming into it like we spoke about earlier in the week. In terms of budget, and competing with teams like Gloucester, I think we are 34th or 35th out of 38 in the main European leagues. We’ve spoken about the development pathway and how we have to bring players through, and it’s difficult without that ‘A’ team exposure.
“You look at sides like Gloucester and, next week, Bath, they have the advantage of teams playing together in the ‘A’ competition so when it comes to LV time those involved have already been playing together as a team.
“We have boys coming in from Premiership rugby, into this contest, and it is a big step. There’s a lot to take from it, and if we can expose these boys more often and get them the experience they need then we’re confident we won’t be chasing the game in the last five minutes, we can go on to win these games.
“It’s a tough place to be when your set piece is under pressure and we’re giving away penalties and territory, as was the case in the first half.
“It’s a learning curve for these young boys, whether it’s someone like Sam who has a bit more experience or the boys making their debuts, they’ll take something from it and we’ll be better from it.
“Making that transition from Premiership rugby into this level of competition is not easy. There’s room for growth, that’s for sure, and you’d like to think that in a year or two’s time, when these boys have got the experience, we’re going to be much stronger as a squad and have that depth in certain positions that we can’t afford to just go out and buy.
“It’s a development process, it takes time, but there’s some real positives there for us.”