On a night that ended on a high for the Ospreys with Ashley Beck grabbing a late try to secure a bonus point win at the Liberty Stadium, Backs Coach Gruff Rees refused to get carried away as he reflected on the game shortly after the final whistle.
Despite the four tries, Rees felt that the men in black had lost their focus midway through the game and almost paid the price as Treviso chipped away at the 20 point lead they’d built up, coming back to trail by just six before a late rally saw the Osprey pull away once more.
Speaking to the press post-match, Rees acknowledged that the game hadn’t been as comfortable as it may have looked to those just checking the final score.
“No, definitely not” said Rees.
“There was a period in that game where we weren’t in control of what we were doing and put ourselves under pressure. We’re pleased we regrouped, there was a real inner spirit on show. We had to dig ourselves out of trouble, fight for the cause, and to get the two tries in the last quarter was pleasing, but we’re not neglecting the fact there were disappointing areas.
“The first 20/25 we built pressure well. We’ve spoken about the first game of the season out there where we allowed them to go three, six, nine points, and we did the opposite today. We built up a healthy lead but then we took our eye off the ball. We started chasing something that wasn’t there and that’s showing disrespect to a side like Treviso. They are excellent competitors and when we started to do that, they started to get stronger around the contact area and we put ourselves under pressure with some needless penalties. That allowed them to get field position and their driving game comes into play then. That really put us on the back foot.
“I felt that apart from the scrum Treviso physically manned up to us and matched us. They caused real problems in terms of our driving game and our close quarter stuff. We didn’t get much change out of Treviso there. We’ve got to have a good focus on that an up the ante.
“When we’re sharp, with everyone understanding the process and there’s accuracy about what we’re doing, we look a dangerous team. The flip side of that is there are certain times when we look really loose and individual. We’ve got to make sure we’re a bit more constant in what we do. Often the simple thing is the right thing and I think we’re too clever for our own good sometimes.
“We’ve been pleased with Hanno’s progress, he does work well with Fussell in the wide channels, we see that as a good link, and he’s lively on counter attack. Eli as well has been particularly pleasing, he’s come back from injury in great physical shape, with a real confidence and aptitude to get on the ball as much as he can in dangerous areas.
“It was a good finish for his try but also, it was a good team try. We talk about periods where we got loose and lacked composure and patience, that was one period where we actually kept the ball for a number of phases, moved the opposition back and fore which was one of the things we looked at, and then managed to create a slight overlap in the wide channel. Beyond that, the finish was fantastic, it was reminiscent of his score against Ulster last year.”
Looking ahead to round two and next weekend’s difficult trip to Leicester, Rees has no doubt that improvement is needed, saying:
“We’re expecting a real tough, physical challenge. You can get boxed in by the Welford Road atmosphere and the real physicality they bring, and we have to make sure that it doesn’t grind us down. We’ve seen how Leicester play, we know how we’ve got to apply our game for that full 80 or 90 minutes of rugby, which we certainly didn’t do tonight.
“If we have loose periods and go onto the back foot, making ourselves defensively vulnerable, it could be a long day. We know we’ve got to tighten up and be a bit more secure in what we do.”