With two tries and an assist in the Ospreys’ bonus point win at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday night, Jeff Hassler was a key player in a victory that keeps the region’s Champions Cup hopes alive.
In a remarkable game, the Ospreys ran in six tries in all to defeat Northampton, running up a 43-8 lead at the hour mark, before a final quarter flourish saw the Aviva Premiership side cause a few flutters in the Ospreys’ camp, the winning margin finishing up at 11 points.
For Hassler, it meant three tries in two games, following his touchdown against Munster the previous weekend, and he said he’s enjoying being back on the scoresheet and, more importantly, to have helped the Ospreys secure a very welcome win.
“Any time you are scoring tries, points, like that and winning games, you are going to enjoy it” said Hassler.
“It got a little bit tense when they started coming back maybe but we dug deep and had done the hard work in the first hour to make sure of a big win for us. I know it’s a cliché in itself but it’s something we can learn from going forward.
“We got the win which keeps us alive in this competition and that’s the big thing from this game.”
The win was the Ospreys’ first on English soil in the premier European competition since January 2007 when tries from Steve Tandy and Stefan Terblanche helped the region to an 18-7 win over then Premiership champions, Sale Sharks.
It was also a marked contrast to the last visit to Franklin’s Gardens, when Hassler ended up in the unfamiliar number 13 shirt, switching to centre just before kick-off after the late withdrawal of Andrew Bishop, with the Ospreys on the receiving end of a 34-6 thumping.
Delighted as he was to enjoy a more fruitful evening this time around, Hassler is well aware that the December double header often sees a very different outcome in the second leg. With the Saints at the Liberty next weekend, he warned his Ospreys team-mates to be prepared for a backlash.
“It’s been a tough night but when you have these back to back games, you have to front up and go again” he said.
“The second game is often very different as you’ve both had a chance to work each other out a bit more, but we’ll want to take some momentum and keep on going, hopefully getting ourselves another ‘W’.
“Any time you get over the line is nice, particularly in such a big game, in Europe away to one of the big clubs in England. The last time we came here was a bit different and that makes it even better to be going home with all five points.
“Everyone is probably looking in from the outside wondering what’s been going on with us all, but after this game you can see from the get-go that we wanted to play for each other as a team. To score six tries and 43 points away from home, in Europe against a Premiership side, it says a lot about where we are mentally as a group.”
Tickets for Sunday’s return game at the Liberty Stadium are on sale now at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets