Alun Wyn Jones says that the Ospreys will “keep our heads down” as they prepare for Zebre challenge in Parma on Friday night.
Last Saturday’s win over Munster at Thomond Park may have maintained the Ospreys’ unbeaten start to the new Guinness PRO12 season, but the skipper was under no illusions that it was the perfect performance when he reflected on the game just a couple of hours after the final whistle.
The post-match mood in the visitors changing room over in Limerick was very much one of ‘could do better’, a sentiment expressed by Jones without any room for ambiguity as he waited to board the return flight to Ospreylia.
Asked for his thoughts on the match, he highlighted discipline as a key area to improve on. He explained:
“I think we can be happy with the way we reacted to going behind at the start of both halves. We grew into the game after getting off to the worst possible start each time and conceding the first points. To be critical, we felt that we left a lot of points out on the park because of our discipline. That was a thread throughout the match that we need to address.
“Because of the penalties we kept on giving away, particularly needless ones when we were pressing that allowed them to get back up the field, it was a lot closer than it needed to be maybe and it could have gone either way.
“The character we showed to deal with the shifts of momentum in the game was pleasing. We kept a level head when they were throwing everything at us and held on so we were obviously content with how it went, if not going overboard about it. We have to keep our feet on the ground though because, like I said, we left points out on the park and got away with it. Other times we may not be so fortunate.
“As a pack of forwards, we realised what game plan Munster would be likely to use, what their mindset would be, through the team selection up front. All credit to the boys, backs and forwards, we put our hands up and tried to make sure we didn’t allow them any momentum.
“I think we did that for a large proportion of the game, but the penalties probably gave them a bit more momentum than we would have liked. We can’t get carried away with ourselves though, we are only four games into a long, long season. We’ll keep our heads down and keep working hard as a unit, to make sure we are where we need to be, mentally and physically, in Italy on Friday.”
This weekend sees the Ospreys on there travels once more, this time to Northern Italy and the city of Parma, where they will come up against a Zebre side buoyed by an impressive win over Ulster on Saturday afternoon. It was a result that sent shockwaves through the PRO12, but Jones insisted that wasn’t the case in Ospreylia.
“I’ll re-emphasise that we aren’t getting carried away, because we went there and lost in the last away game of last season” he said.
“That defeat probably sealed our fate of not going into the play-offs, which was a huge disappointment. It may have come as a surprise to Ulster, but the result on Saturday certainly wasn’t a surprise to us.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do this week but we want to continue in a similar vein and take nothing for granted, not get carried away and that’s what we’ll do. The preparation for Zebre began in earnest as soon as the final whistle went at Thomond Park and we are looking no further ahead than Friday night.”