With the Ospreys back in the play-off spots following their win over Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night, but facing two difficult away trips to Glasgow and Leinster in the final two rounds of the RaboDirect PRO12 season, Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys says that the tough test they are facing can bring out the best in the team.
The win means the Ospreys have lost just twice in 17 league games since mid September, a sluggish start to the campaign which saw them lose the first three games on the bounce leaving them playing catch-up on the rest. However, as he reflected on the current standings after Round 20, Humphreys said that if they to make the top four it won’t be for the lack of effort.
“If you’d asked us after the first three games of the season, would you be there or thereabouts fighting for the play-offs with a couple of games to go we’d have taken that” he insisted.
“We’ve got two really difficult games to go but we know what it takes to win in these places and we know it’s going to take us playing at our very, very best to do that.
“Glasgow will be disappointed at the way they played last night, although the Scarlets played really well, so it’s going to be a really tough game on Friday. If we get a win up there, all of a sudden we’ve dragged Glasgow back into it.
“The odds are stacked against us, going against a very strong team in Glasgow and a team who you could say will be out for revenge against us in Leinster. It’s going to be extremely tough but that can bring the best out of us.
“If we get eight points from these games, we’re there or thereabouts. If we don’t make the play-offs, then we’ve still done extremely well, fighting hard in a season of adversity. We’ve had an unbelievable amount of injuries so to be thereabouts and win our last two games, and be in with a shout at the very end of the season, we can’t do any more than that and we’d have taken that after three games.
“If we fall short it won’t be for a lack of effort. These boys have got a lot of resolve and we’re going to need it.”
Saturday’s game was one where the Ospreys dominated for long periods without ever really looking in the second half like turning that dominance into a five point win, the third try only coming with just seconds left on the clock. Humphreys admitted that it had been a frustrating evening, indicating at disappointment at the way some of the key decisions had gone. He said:
“It was a really frustrating game. It never flowed. They conceded 17 penalties and there was only one yellow card, in the middle of the second half, so it really was a stop-start game. It was difficult. In our last four or five games there’s been 40 plus minutes ball in play time, which is good, this game it would have been 20 minutes or so.
“There were a lot of things out there where you want clarity, the tackle contest and the scrum area. We had seven penalties or free kicks out of nine scrums I think. You’ve got to ask questions like when does the yellow card come out in those situations.
“I think it’s the seventh time this season we’ve score three times in a game. Those things are frustrating but you’ve got to take into account the injuries that we’ve had in certain areas. We’ve got people like Ben John on one wing playing extremely well, Habbers on the other playing extremely well, it’s a great breeding ground for next year that will give us strength in depth in these areas.”