toby booth

Ospreys ready to fire as Booth puts Vodacom Bulls in the crosshairs

Wales's Ospreys earned respect in the Republic by beating the DHL Stormers in Cape Town.

South Africans are passionate about their teams, but they are equally accommodating and generous in their appreciation of a visiting team that knows how to scrap, knows how to physically front and knows how to go to dark places to fashion a win.

South Africans also love an underdog and the Ospreys arrived in South Africa knowing they must overcome the odds to keep their hopes of a play-off spot alive.

They remain underdogs for the battle of Loftus, but in becoming just the third team to beat the DHL Stormers at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town, they will arrive in Pretoria and be given the necessary acknowledgement of a worthy foe.

World rugby is healthier when the Welsh dragon is breathing fire. Equally the BKT United Rugby Championship is stronger when the Welsh presence is a challenge and not bottom of the league clutter.

The Ospreys, defiant, desperate and deserving of the five league points at the DHL Stadium, are lurking in the shadows like silent assassins.

Coach Toby Booth must have been on the brink of revelling with his troops well into the early hours of Sunday after Ospreys ambushed the one-time champions and two-time finalists, the DHL Stormers, in Cape Town last week.

This was the Ospreys third South African conquest in as many attempts this BKT URC season, with the Hollywoodbets Sharks and Emirates Lions not good enough to win in Swansea.

Their league record is eight wins from 14, which surpasses their 2022/23 season, and their 40 league points are the equal of the DHL Stormers and one ahead of the Emirates Lions.

Booth has been brilliant in galvanising his boys and they have responded to his mantra that a team that has grunt always has a chance. The Ospreys this season have evolved into more than just a defensive brick wall. They can attack and they can score tries, but their primary desire is to keep teams out, which was the case in Cape Town.

John Dobson, DHL Stormers Director of Rugby, complimented the Ospreys. He knew they had shown a desire and hunger needed to go where only the Lions (once) and Munster (twice) had gone at the DHL Stadium - and that is to a winning shed at full-time.

Welsh rugby has known dark times in the past few seasons and many would suggest they are still in the dark, but the Ospreys light, while a glimmer in the league, is currently a beacon for the Welsh BKT United Rugby Championship play-offs challenge.

Booth's strategy revolves around a return to basics, emphasising set-piece dominance and elite conditioning. This forms the bedrock for Ospreys' formidable defence and kicking game, which now ranks among the top three in the competition after 14 rounds.

Scrumhalf Reuben Morgan-Williams' boot and the relentless tackling of flanker Harri Deaves and lock Rhys Davies are bolstered by a South African contingent, featuring tighthead prop Tom Botha and loaned Cheetahs players Victor Sekekete, Jeandre Rudolph, and Evardi Boshoff.

The imminent return of former Wales veteran Justin Tipuric to the captaincy, alongside the inclusion of fit-again Wales loosehead prop Gareth Thomas in the matchday squad, suggests that Booth has been hoarding some ammunition for this pivotal showdown on the Highveld. And he's itching to pull the trigger on yet another legendary triumph that gives Ospreys an edge in the Race to the Eight.

Every tackle, pass, try, conversion, every cheer, is crucial on the road to the knockouts. Make sure you're there for our pivotal final regular home game of the season: our Welsh Derby vs Dragons.