Steve Tandy was left ruing missed opportunities and a match turning “moment of brilliance” that condemned the Ospreys to semi-final defeat on Saturday.
A tight contest at Thomond Park was finely balanced at 8-3 to Munster with an hour on the clock, only for a length of the field score from the home team to put daylight between the teams in the final quarter. Ultimately, it was a blow from which the Ospreys failed to recover, going down to a second semi-final defeat in three seasons at Limerick.
“I thought we controlled most of the first half” said Tandy post-match.
“We got into a pretty good arm wrestle for large parts of the game and it took a moment of brilliance for Munster to break the shackles with an hour gone. We had some opportunities at 8-3, we could have done better with the ball we had in the first half but generally I thought we did pretty well up to that point.
“We frustrated Munster, we defended well and had kept them away from our line, and if we had taken one of those opportunities it could have been a different story.
“Even our defence on the line, where we stripped it, we got ourselves into a decent position, and it took a moment of brilliance. In these big games, it takes something like that. Once they got that score to pull clear it was a different game then as we had to chase it.
“I don’t think the score line properly reflects the game, so the overwhelming feeling is one of huge disappointment.”
Any review of the season would highlight the clear failure of the Ospreys to build on the excellent work of the first two-thirds of the season that saw them sitting top of the PRO12 table at the start of March following a hard fought win in Edinburgh, with just one win in the last seven games across all competitions.
“We put ourselves into a good position at the end of the Six Nations so to only pick up one win after that is obviously disappointing” said Tandy.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist but when you go into the end of the season missing 14 or 15 players, it does become a balancing act. There’s a fair few names on the list who would have made a difference for us.
“I think we did really well to get to the semi-final but it doesn’t pave over the cracks. We’re all bitterly disappointed to finish the way we did, and to lose like this in a semi-final.
“It’s easy to talk about learning but we’ve got to understand that when you’re in these big games, when you lose to Ulster in the last minute, when you are leading against Munster with two minutes to go and you’re on their 10m line, you’ve got to close these games out. Going to Treviso away, we’re 10-5 down but played like it was 29-5. You don’t have to panic.
“We need that mental shift, we need to have that little bit of nous that’s been missing. When you are away in a semi-final at somewhere like Thomond Park, when you get into the 22 you have to make it count. That comes from decision making under pressure, choosing the right option when to offload, when to hold. There were two, three occasions where we created the opportunities but didn’t make the right option and the chance was gone.
“Our form hasn’t been good enough at the back end of the year, particularly having put ourselves in such a good position.”