“Positive reaction” pleases MoM Underhill

19-year old Sam Underhill put in another impressive shift in the 26-20 victory over the Dragons on Friday night, his all-action style catching the eye as he picked up the man of the match award.

  • Guinness Man of the Match award handed to young flanker Sam Underhill following win over Dragons
  • Teenager scored the fourth try to secure bonus point win
  • Has made 14 appearances and scored two tries to date in his maiden season as a pro player

Reflecting on the win in his post-match interview, the former England Under-18 skipper said that the importance of bouncing back from defeat the previous weekend in the first of back to back Welsh derbies had been at the front of everybody’s mind ahead of the game at Rodney Parade.

“The biggest thing for us was that we had a positive reaction from last week and the Scarlets” said the teenager.

“We spoke all week about doing the right thing coming up here, being positive in how we approach the game and although it wasn’t perfect still, it’s pleasing that we were able to step up a level and get what we deserved from the game.”

Underhill struck up an impressive looking partnership with another young flanker, 21-year old blind side Olly Cracknell also having a huge impact in a youthful pack, and he said the willingness of everyone to muck in and put the team cause before themselves was important.

“We do have quite good strength in depth in the back row. It’s good for the team that you can be without so many internationals and the young boys can step up and do a job. It could have been difficult with Dan Baker missing then Kingy pulling out late on but it’s important for the squad that the next person can just come in and do their job.

“You look at Brendon Leonard coming on for me in the back row, which shows the attitude that we have as a group. Everyone is putting the team first, which is good, and that’s how it should be.”

With the Ospreys three tries to the good at half-time, Underhill went over for the crucial fourth touchdown early in the second half, ignoring Hanno Dirksen on his outside to crash over from close range to secure the bonus point on an eventful evening that ended with him leaving the stadium with his foot in a protective boot as a precautionary measure after limping off in the dying minutes of the contest.

“I think it says more about my passing than anything else” he laughed when asked about his decision to go it alone for the try.

“Thankfully, it worked out alright for us.

“We said before the game that the way the Dragons play here it wouldn’t be a perfect game, there will be mistakes, but it was about our attitude and character. Our application had to be right. Thankfully, we were able to put a few good moves together, one of which created the space for me to score, and defensively we were able to keep them out when they had all that pressure at the end. That is just as important and will give us all a lift.”

In his first season with the region, Underhill has made 14 appearances for the Ospreys, including starts in Europe against Clermont Auvergne and Exeter Chiefs, and has scored two tries.

He admits that his accelerated progress wasn’t something he anticipated last summer:

“It’s a really good place to play and I’ve really enjoyed my rugby this year. I’m really grateful to get the chances that I am. It’s probably not something I would have imagined a year ago but that’s the nature of professional sport.

“It’s been a tough season for us in many ways, and we know that the expectation of an Ospreys team is to be higher up the table, but in terms of developing young players we’ve definitely kicked on since September and that’s a big positive.

“It’s a place where the coaches are willing to give youngsters a chance and I’ve benefited from that so I’m really happy.”