After watching his young Ospreys team go down to a narrow defeat at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field on Sunday, against a Harlequins team that is leading the way domestically and in Europe this season, Ospreys Head Coach Steve Tandy pinpointed the tackle defence area as a crucial area in the contest.
Speaking in the grandstand at the home of Bridgend Ravens shortly after the final whistle on Sunday, Tandy acknowledged the huge effort from his young team while highlighting where he thought the game was lost.
“Harlequins had speed of ball which was because we weren’t good enough in and around the tackle defence area” he said.
“Our line speed was pretty poor so we basically allowed them quick ball. A team like Harlequins will always come at you if you allow them to.
“It’s another good experience for a young group that they will learn from. We are missing a lot of seasoned internationals, we have U20 boys who would possibly be next in line also away, so we were pretty raw in parts, but I’ve got to say overall it’s been a pretty positive day for us generally.
“You look for reactions on the pitch, when your defence gets cut or when there’s an error, and our scramble defence was very good which is pleasing. We battled pretty well, we contested, but then we’d get to halfway and turn the ball over cheaply, which meant that Harlequins always seemed to have the field position and it made it tough for us.
“Our decision making probably wasn’t what we would have wanted when we had the ball on one or two occasions. But, there were a lot of young kids playing, up against a top class Harlequins teams that have been outstanding this season on three fronts, so although it was tough, in fairness the young group have really responded and put in another shift against a top class outfit.
“It’s a disappointing result, we always want to win games. The effort from the boys was outstanding, especially in the second half, but we couldn’t get a foothold in terms of field position, to get that potential winning score.
“We want to be winners, so it’s important that we learn from these experiences. That’s two weeks running that a young group has pushed a more experience one all the way but just missed out, and they need to learn to find a way to win tight games like this so that we can talk about more than just promise.”
As he reflected on back-to-back LV= Cup defeats and looked ahead to a difficult month which sees the Ospreys face three trips to Ireland over the next four weeks in the PRO12, Tandy highlighted the pressure on the Ospreys limited resources during the international period given the contribution made to the Welsh cause.
“International calls do have an impact” he continued.
“For example, our two first choice tightheads, one is away and the other is injured, then we have two tightheads representing Wales U20s. We are having to manage and cope with international selections and injuries, but once again, the young guys have stepped up to the plate and competed against a real top drawer Harlequins outfit.
“We’ve spoken in the changing rooms that the LV= Cup is about development, and we’ve had a lot of young boys playing again, a lot of Bridgend boys, and to go up against Harlequins and push them all the way is massive for us.
“You look at it, there are 12 English teams at the top level and international duty doesn’t impact on them as much as it does us. They’ve got more money as well, so they’ve got some massive advantages over us. It’s pretty difficult for us, you look at the fixtures we have during the Six Nations when we lose a lot of players. We don’t really want to make excuses, especially when we cross the white line, but I think it has to be documented how difficult it can be for us to remain competitive at times like this in the season.”