Backs Coach, Gruff Rees, has urged the Ospreys to up their game for next week’s return game against the Scarlets after watching the region secure a hard fought victory at Parc y Scarlets on Boxing Day
The Ospreys trailed for over an hour, only getting on the score board in the 68th minute through a Dan Biggar penalty before an Ian Evans try in the closing minutes put them in front for the first time, a full 67 minutes after going behind to a Rhys Priestland penalty in the 7th minute.
Although full of praise for the doggedness of the team and the way they stuck to the task in hand to ensure the travelling support headed back home over the Loughor Bridge happy, Rees was quick to stress the need to improve before the Domino’s Derby series resumes at the Liberty Stadium next week.
“We turned over the ball far too often and far too cheaply, which meant we weren’t able to maybe get the domination on the scoreboard that our possession possibly deserved” admitted Rees.
“It made it very difficult for us. That was disappointing as we worked hard and tried to play it in the right areas. But credit to the players as well, they were physical, they never let their heads drop, and they kept going which resulted in them getting their reward even if it wasn’t pretty at times.
“We put a lot of speed and tempo into the game, which was pleasing. It was often misguided, we went into areas where the Scarlets were strong defensively, but we challenged and we are trying to keep that positivity. There are times when we’ve got to be smarter. There’s plenty to work on over the next eight days ahead of the return game.”
The Ospreys looked to have made the breakthrough just before the hour mark when some lovely play among the backs saw Hanno Dirksen go over in the corner, only for the TMO to rule out the score, adjudging the winger in touch before grounding. It was the narrowest of calls, and Rees agreed with with media suggestions that the player could consider himself unlucky to see the try chalked off by the officials.
“It was a great set-piece attack as a team, we created the balance we want, and it was a pretty good opportunity for us. Hanno couldn’t do any more. Watching rugby week in, week out, and being a coach, I read a column this week that suggested people seem to be finding reasons not to give tries and I would concur with that kind of statement, whether that’s us or other games that I’m watching.
“You’re talking a blade of grass here or there, and I’m bound to say yes from an Ospreys coach and an offensive coach, but I’d tend to agree with the suggestion that in situations where there is no clear and obvious reason not to give it, then the benefit of doubt should go to the attacking team.”
The first leg of the Domino’s Derby series saw a full house of 14,796 packed in to the stadium, an all-time record high for the Scarlets region, and with another sell-out later in the day at Rodney Parade, Rees acknowledged the importance of supporters to the four regions over this period.
“I admire the passion and resilience of the supporters of all four regions. It means a lot, to a lot of people and I respect that. I can’t say any more, we’ll just do what we do as coaches and players, and try to respond with full blooded encounters, something I think both sides offered today in an intense game. We fell the right side of it but I think the Scarlets will get a break soon as well.”
Tickets for the return match at the Liberty Stadium are on sale now from the Ticket Office and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665 during opening hours, or 24/7 at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets. With the biggest crowd of the season set to cheer on the Ospreys against their biggest rivals, we look forward to seeing you there on Friday 3rd January for 7.15pm.