Thomond win a “significant one” for Ospreys

First win outside Wales in 12 months represents a 'small breakthrough' says Gruff Rees


After watching the Ospreys maintain their winning start to the season with a memorable success over Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday evening, Backs Coach Gruff Rees said the team’s defensive resolve was particularly satisfying.


Reflecting on the four point victory, Rees agreed with comments from the media at the post-match press conference that the huge defensive effort in the final minutes was pleasing, saying it was a performance in line with the traditions and history of the region.


“We feel that we’re getting a bit more of our defensive resolve back" he said.


"Certainly, that was an area we looked at last year as one of the reasons we weren’t a top four side. I think even prior to the last few minutes, in the third quarter, we started to show some tactical smartness where we wanted to put Munster back into their own half and perhaps put them under pressure in that respect.


“We were pretty confident in our defensive structures. Where we weren’t confident was where we lived on the edge discipline wise. We did heap a lot of pressure onto ourselves, and a lot of our game was ugly from an attacking point of view, so we are pleased to take the points but we are quite sure that we know we need to, and will, improve on this.


“Before this we hadn’t achieved a significant away win for a whole year. In terms of getting on a plane and going through that process, this young group is evolving and probably does need to pick up those scalps as they continue to develop. To get that tonight is pleasing. 


“We know there’ll be curves, we won’t always get these ups. We are grounded in knowing that we are perhaps not as good as we’re now being built up to be and there’s areas today we were quite fragile in. This is points in the bank though and we can build momentum around it. To come here and tough it out in the way we did represents a small breakthrough for us.


“Like I said, apart from derby games we haven’t gone away and won for exactly 12 months this weekend. We’ve looked at that way we trained over the summer, we’ve really tried to problem solve, and make ourselves a side that can actually get back to what previous Ospreys sides have done.


“There’s new players in the shirt, upholding the tradition and the values of physical toughness and the mindset to go for 80 minutes. To win a game out here you need that effort in defence. You see people like Dmitri coming in for his first ever Ospreys start at tighthead, he goes 79 minutes and has put in a fantastic shift around the set-piece and defensively.”


Rees then scoffed at the suggestion that having been written off in pre-season the Ospreys were now in the business of proving people wrong, saying:


“We aren’t a group that gets carried away, we don’t get too high about picking up the big scalps or the depths when we are scratching around for results. We’re probably somewhere around the middle, as a coaching and a playing group, but, we’ve been confident in what we are doing behind the scenes. For the bulk of last year we had a pretty decent side, in terms of pushing for the top four, and it was the majority of this group which were getting game time. Now we’re seeing a lot of the youngsters getting more mature around the things we do, starting to show a little bit of learning around a few things, but as I said, it’s far from perfect. 


“There’s a lot of inaccuracies that kill you at times as  a coach, especially around the cheap penalties we gave away when we were comfortable for a lot of our defensive work. We realise that in terms of the young players, progression is never linear. Today is a significant one for us, but we’ve just got to keep upping the ante on what we do, and we’ve got to smooth out the rough edges.”

Head Coach, Steve Tandy, was left behind in Ospreylia as he waits for his wife to give birth to their third child, but Gruff said that the result had pleased him as he watched from home via Sky Sports:


“We have spoken, and there were a few texts coming through straight on full-time. No family news for him yet but obviously he’s a delighted man. I think he found it difficult, being the man he is, but he was confident in what this group put together in the working week and we followed that up tonight.”