"It's been a good night"

Head Coach Sean Holley says that the fixture against a Regional Select XV at Aberavon had been a success on every front.

Speaking after watching a young Ospreys side earn a hard fought 58-22 win at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Tuesday night, he said:

"I think whatever way you look at it, it’s been a good night all round and we can pleased with how things have gone.

"The sun was shining on us tonight thankfully, and that helped to ensure a great turnout and a special occasion. I think all those who were here will be pleased by what they’ve seen, on and off the pitch.

"Tonight we’ve had a bit of a glimpse of the future of the Ospreys. It’s been a good experience for everyone, and as a coaching team, we’ve certainly been able to find out a bit more about the players, some things good, some things bad. It’s all part of the learning process, part of the work we are doing to build towards the new season and to really develop strength in depth at the region."

As the first of three pre-season fixtures, the game offered a chance to some of the younger players to stake a claim for a place in the opening weeks of the new campaign while the international contingent that returned to training a month later than the rest continue their build up. Holley added:

"It was a good opportunity for these players to put into practice some of the things we’ve worked on in pre-season, and to see how far some of them have come over the last few weeks. A lot of this group will get the opportunity for plenty of rugby this season, so it’s important they show us what they can do.

"There were a lot of players out there tonight that maybe most people here wouldn’t be familiar with, but we are aware of the potential there is in our group. Players like Matthew Morgan, Ashley Beck and Kristian Phillips will no doubt catch the eye with the tries they scored, but there were other standouts. James King did well, he worked hard and carried well. Conor McInerney hasn’t had much rugby over the last year but he put himself about and was abrasive, while James Goode is technically very good and had an impact. In the front row, Mefin is an excellent guy to have working with young props like Ryan Bevington and Joe Rees, who will only learn from playing with someone like that.

"It wasn’t perfect by any means but we can review the video with the boys and step on from here. We had a lot of young men involved who will be pleased with the night they had, but it’s important that we keep the guys feet firmly on the ground and keep tonight’s game in context so they don’t allow themselves to get carried away. They have to remember that even the youngest of them are professional rugby players, many of them have been full-time for one, two or maybe more years, so there was a certain expectation tonight. We’ll take a lot out of the game like I said, and I’m sure they will all be able to learn from this experience."

Preparations continue to build this week, with Leeds Carnegie next up on Saturday, and Holley hinted that there will be a number of changes to the line-up for that game:

"We are heading up to North Wales later in the week, and then we’ve got two tough games against top English sides to follow, which will help to get us in shape and ready for the new season, and then we’ll have two weeks to finish preparations for Ulster away at the start of September.

"It’ll be important over the next couple of games now to get the balance right, and we’ll have to take into consideration the workloads of the different players over the season, but we’ll be ready. Players like Richard Fussell and Dai Flanagan will be itching to get a run out up in Leeds now, Gareth Owen’s another. It’ll be another good test to help us build."

Reflecting on the success of the evening, Holley said that it’s important that credit is given to everybody involved, starting with the opposition:

"You’ve got to give the Regional side credit for tonight. They worked incredibly hard, worked for each other, were brave and there were some good performances in their side. They really made life difficult for us and asked a few questions, really providing a test. When you consider what they’ve done, coming together with just a couple of sessions, they’ve done brilliantly under Simon King and Craig Warlow.

"An awful lot of people have worked very hard to make this game a success and it’s important that they get the credit they deserve. We need to thank everybody at Aberavon for the fantastic welcome, as always, and also, all the clubs who agreed to release players for the game and gave their boys the opportunity to play on this stage.

"You can see the importance of playing games like this, and getting out into the region, when you look around and see so many families here, with their children loving the opportunity to come along and meet the players. Everywhere you’ve looked tonight there’s been players signing autographs, photos being taken, and it really shows what the Ospreys mean to the people in the region. We’ve got fantastic support, we all know that, so it’s great to be able to do things like this. We did it two years ago in Maesteg, it was a great success then just like tonight, and I’d like to think that this can become an annual part of our pre-season build-up."