Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, couldn't hide his disappointment after watching the Ospreys defeated by the Dragons.
Speaking to the assembled media at Rodney Parade shortly after the final whistle on Friday evening, Johnson said:
“I’m very disappointed with the way we played tonight. We didn’t play great, but let’s take nothing away from the Dragons. We hear a lot about the Dragons playing with heart and spirit, their tenacity, but their performance today was about more than that, they played some good rugby with great skills, and they took advantage of some of our mistakes.
“That’s what’s disappointing about us tonight, we were in the game at half-time, it was tight, but our errors allowed them to race away with it in the third quarter and it left us with too much to do in the end.
“I think people’s pride was dented and all of a sudden the tempo and the urgency lift’s our game. That’s the funny thing about human nature, we get desperate, and we probably should have been at the start. That’s something we’ll be discussing as a group.
“To be fair, we never looked like we should have really. There was plenty of endeavour and the intent was there, I think it could have gone either way, but people have to look at themselves in the mirror and be honest with themselves. That’s what we intend doing, including me.
“We didn’t get enough set-pieces where we needed to be, and when we did, we lost possession, so we didn’t get consistency of ball. That’s our fault, no-one else’s, we can control it at the set-piece and we didn’t. We let ourselves down with turnovers and they punished it. We’re a hard side to score against, our record and the statistics show that, and they’ve put four on us. That says a bit about it, but a lot of those tries came from our inability to hold the ball. It makes a side vulnerable when you turnover ball.
“A home semi-final will be tough now. We’ve got two big games coming up, and the Dragons can do us a favour, they can be our friends now. I hope they take those games like they did tonight, there’s much to like about them, but at the same time, we’ve got to get our own points. If we get nine points we’ll probably get through, but we’ve got to make sure we do our part.”
Asked directly about the decision to leave Mike Phillips out of the 23, and whether it meant the scrum-half had played his last game for the Ospreys, Johnson revealed the reasoning behind his absence:
“I didn’t think it was appropriate this week to include Mike, with all the media, and coming into a pretty hostile environment. I didn’t think it was fair on the lad. It’s not the last time we’ve seen him, he’s up for selection next week. Sometimes you make decisions for other reasons, and I wasn’t going to hang someone out to dry like that, I didn’t think it’s appropriate. We made our decision based on that rather than rugby issues.”