Marty Holah has acknowledged that the Ospreys need to up their game after defeat to Ulster on Saturday, and asked the fans to continue backing the team.
The experienced former All-Black admitted that the Ospreys put in a below par showing in the 20-16 loss to Ulster, acknowledging that the performance wasn’t what the supporters would have hoped for, but he says that the players will bounce back from the disappointment of losing the first home game of the new season. He said:
“It’s very disappointing, the way we played, but you’ve got to give a fair bit of credit to Ulster. The biggest thing they brought was a lot of passion and determination. They got their heads in front on the scoreboard and played a similar style to how the South Africans play, they put the ball in the air, contested it really well and put all the pressure back on us.
“As you could see, we’re not 100 per cent clear with our roles yet, we’re still working into a new pattern and system and while we’re working hard in training, when it came to the crunch time and we were under pressure we didn’t always nail it. That’s the learning curve in rugby and I think while we’re disappointed, we will look to improve week on week. Looking at what we do in training, we definitely perform a lot better than that, but it needs fine tuning. That’s professional rugby, you can be five per cent off your game and it can mean a lot on the scoreboard.
“You have to earn your support and a performance like that doesn’t really give credit to the way our fans turn out. When we play well we reward our fans, and I think we’ve done that on plenty of occasions, tonight just wasn’t one of them. The Ospreys supporters are a loyal bunch and they are right behind the boys, if it was a crunch game in May then I’d say we’d definitely have let them down, but the second game of the season and working through a few changes from what we’ve had the last couple of years, I think they’ll understand that we’re building for something different this year.
"It's been difficult, having to assimilate five different groups of players back into training, but we know what we are trying to do and realise that it won't come overnight. We certainly aren't going to panic because of one bad day at the office, we have to remain clear headed and focused on where we are trying to get to without any kneejerk reactions.
“We’ve been working on systems of clearing pressure, which was one of the areas that let us down tonight. We got trapped in our own half, made mistakes there and couldn’t clear it. You look at what Ulster did, every time they got in their own 22 they kicked it high and short, which probably isn’t a normal thing, but then their wingers and midfielders chased hard and put pressure on our catchers, and quite often got a turnover, or put pressure on us from a blitzing defence, which is something that we are traditionally good at and do to other sides.
“Our defence will improve week on week, just by the guys playing together. It’s a very difficult thing to simulate, a defence thing. The blitz is high risk/high reward and when it goes wrong it does look dreadful but when it clicks all together it looks outstanding. I think we’ll get there in the very near future. Attacking wise, we’ve got to learn where on the field we can play. When we’ve just gone back into our own half is probably not the best time to play, against a side that’s chasing hard and putting pressure on, it’s often hard to put the pressure back onto them. There are just a few subtle things with our calls and lines that were just a little bit off, and that hurt us.
“We played really well in facets, we stopped their drive which is a big play for them. They like to drive and bring their forwards in for pick and goes around the fringes and I think we did pretty well in shutting that down. We also scored a great try ourselves from a driving lineout. Last year we were particularly poor at that, but we’ve worked at our mauling and it seems to paying off, as we’ve scored a couple of good tries in a couple of weeks.”