Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, hailed the Ospreys defensive efforts at the KIngspan Stadium on Saturday night but rued the narrow defeat to unbeaten table toppers Ulster as one that got away.
His Ospreys side had led for more than 70 minutes in a tight contest of few chances, a superb rearguard action stifling one of the PRO12’s most potent attacks, only to succumb to a late, contentious decision that saw Olly Cracknell penalised in front of the posts to hand Ulster’s Paddy Jackson a simple kick to win it at the death.
Speaking straight after the game, Tandy’s disappointment was obvious.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t see the game out” he said.
“We deserved more than just a point from this game. In the changing room it’s a feeling of disappointment. I feel we could have done more ourselves to see that game out. It was a huge, huge effort and every one of the team deserve credit for the way they approached the task and stuck at it, but the ultimate feeling for us all tonight has to be disappointment and frustration.”
Asked about the penalty decision at the end, Tandy refused to be drawn, preferring to focus on the positives.
“I haven’t looked at it in too much detail” continued Tandy.
“There are big collisions, he’s tried to get away. It is a big call. There’s a lot that goes on in and around those areas and there are some pretty smart players.
“It was a huge effort. Defensively, we were spot on. We looked really comfortable and, yes, Ulster had possession, big phase counts, but I didn’t think they were going anywhere. That’s making it even more disappointing, to give away that last minute penalty and lose the game.
“When you look at it, we could potentially have gone 14 up early on, then at the back end, Habbers is caught just short and there’s a penalty for us going off our feet, Eli went close the other side, there were a few opportunities for us to close it out, probably more chances than they had in the game. We could have done better.
“Then, at the end there’s a scrum penalty, to another penalty, it’s a bit disappointing. It’s a frustrated group, after the effort they’ve put in to come away with just a point. There’s a huge game coming up now at the Liberty next weekend against the Blues and that has to be the focus.
“Hopefully, at the back end of the season we’ll look at this as a good point gained but right now it’s bitterly disappointing as we thought we did enough to win the game.”
Looking ahead to the visit of the Blues to the Liberty Stadium on Friday night, Tandy said that he is expecting another cracker of a contest in front of a big crowd:
“They are one of the form teams of the championship, they’ve started the season on fire and will fancy their chances coming to us. We know what to expect so we’ll have to stand up to them if we want to get back on track. It should be another big occasion, with a good crowd at the Liberty, and we’ve got to use the frustration from tonight in a positive way.”