“Plenty to work on” ahead of PRO12 opener

Steve Tandy has declared himself “pretty satisfied” with the Ospreys’ pre-season, following a four point defeat in an enthralling 12 try contest with Leicester on Friday night.

The 42-38 defeat  at Welford Road rounded off the region’s pre-season schedule following a 26-21 win over the Tigers in Swansea two weeks ago and a 71-0 thumping of Belgium last weekend, and Tandy believes there are positive signs with enough ‘work-ons’ to keep everybody grounded ahead of the new season

“There’s still bits and pieces to tidy up” was Tandy’s immediate verdict of Friday night’s performance, where the Ospreys and Leicester ran in six tries each.

“Coming to Welford Road against a pretty strong Leicester outfit and scoring six tries, there are a lot of positives.

“We invited too much pressure on ourselves, there were some loose exits, some times where we didn’t take balls we should have, and in fairness to Leicester they strangled us when they had the opportunity. We’ve got a bit to work on at setpiece but, all in all, we are pretty satisfied.

“Leicester made us work pretty hard for our tries but there were some real good moments around our attack. I thought some of our lineouts were spot on. All in all, there is still plenty to work on from pre-season but there are a lot of positives we can take out of tonight.

“It was a good spectacle for a pre-season game. We’ll take a lot of learning from both these games. I think over the two games, probably both sides will be pretty pleased with elements, and both coaches will realise there’s a fair bit of work still to do.”

Among a number of players catching the eye was centre Ashley Beck, after missing all bar the opening game of last season, and Tandy was asked for is thoughts on the centre being back in action.

“It’s great” agreed Tandy.

“You can see some of his movement, his experience, what he offers, and then we’ve got the two Canadians back, I thought Tyler in particular was really good again tonight. That’s three boys coming back in who didn’t play much rugby last season while it’s good to have Tipuric involved and proving influential.

“We’ve got a lot of boys still to come in as well. You look at the Leicester side, who was playing, and you realise there’s a fair squad. It’s really pleasing for us to use this game, and see people like Joe Thomas, Keelan Giles and Luke Price coming on at the back end and not look out of place.

“We’d prefer not to concede so many tries and we need to tidy up on some scrum stuff, but it’s been a pretty decent night for us. We were pretty resilient despite the pressure we were under at times, a lot of which was self-imposed. A couple of times they went to the corner and sapped our energy and three of the tries were from our kick-offs which is pretty disappointing.

“All in all we can be pretty satisfied with our pre-season, how it’s gone, but we’ve got a seven day lead-in into Zebre at the Liberty now and we’ve got to refocus, touch up on the stuff we need to and, hopefully, continue with the positive we have seen.”

Some of the journalists at Welford Road then predicted a winning start to the PRO12 campaign next weekend but Tandy was quick to issue a word of caution.

“We have to be performance based” he said. 

“You can talk about making hay but then forget about performance. We haven’t got a God given right to beat anyone, we aren’t good enough to think like that. We’ll do our due diligence on the opposition but the focus is on ourselves, where we need to tidy up and where we can keep improving, as individuals and as a team. If we don’t, we’ll get caught out.

“What’s pleased me the most over the last few weeks is we’ve seen real growth in this group, without some of our senior players. When you look at who we have to come back in over the next few weeks, you recognise that we can, and will, get stronger, but credit has to go to the people in our development pathway who keep pushing boys through for the region. We are looking forward to welcoming some pretty key individuals back into the fold over the coming weeks but we know that, at the same time, we are starting to build depth, creating options, which is what we need if we are going to keep growing as a team.”

The Ospreys kick off the new Guinness PRO12 campaign against Zebre at the Liberty Stadium on Friday 2nd September at 7.35pm.