After the Ospreys rounded off the regular season with an away win over Aironi, Backs Coach Gruff Rees issued a stark warning to the team that they'll need to up their game next Friday if they are to overcome Munster and book a place in the RaboDirect PRO12 final at the end of the month.
The Italians proved tough opponents, matching the Ospreys punch for punch as they claimed a losing bonus point at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, but Rees says that the challenge should stand them in good stead as they prepare to welcome the Munstermen to the Liberty.
“We started very brightly which was something we’d talked about length ahead of the game, and got the early try, but we weren’t really able to capitalise on the good start” he said post-match.
“We got too bogged down and never really imposed ourselves on them which was very disappointing
“Ill discipline cost us field position far too often and that meant we found ourselves under lots of unnecessary pressure far too often. It’s the first time in a while that we’ve put ourselves on the back foot like that in terms of territory and possession and it’s something that we clearly need to address this week or we’ll find ourselves in real trouble against Munster. They won’t let us off the hook so lightly.
“Aironi missed a lot of kicks so it could have been very different. We got out of jail to an extent. The real lesson to learn from this one is that we can’t afford to lose emotional control like we did at times tonight or Munster will make us pay.
“If I was looking to find the positives, you’d have to say that we got in a big defensive workout, something we haven’t really had in recent weeks, and the way we handled a lot of Aironi pressure was pleasing. The physicality they brought to the game was excellent for us, particularly given who the opposition is next week.
“The breakdown contest was very difficult but we showed up very well in that area. We know that’s a strength of Munster so it was good for us to get a real challenge there. It was a tough evening, it was always going to be. To come out of it with the win, and some clear work-on’s for next week, mean that on balance it’s been a good evening for us, but we know that there’s plenty of work to be done.
“We can look forward to Friday night now, Munster at home in a knock-out match, it’s going to be a fantastic occasion for everybody and hopefully we’ll get a crowd to match it.”