Chris Gibbes hailed the character and professionalism shown by the Ospreys in their Champions Cup thriller against Clermont Auvergne on Sunday afternoon.
- Ospreys the first away team to score four tries in a European Cup tie at Stade Marcel Michelin since October 2008 - when Sale were the last visiting side to win there
- Gibbes says players deserve "huge credit for their efforts"
- The two points gained by the Ospreys "could make a huge difference in the pool in the long run" he added
- Cardiff Blues next for the Ospreys in a PRO12 Welsh derby at the Liberty next Saturday (3.00pm KO)
The Ospreys travelled to one of European rugby’s most impenetrable fortresses and stood toe-to-toe with last season’s European and T14 runners-up, who hadn’t lost at home in this competition since 2008 and have appeared in two of the last three finals.
An incredible finish saw the 14-man Ospreys running in two tries in as many minutes to stun the Stade Marcel Michelin crowd and secure not only a losing bonus point but, also, a try bonus point.
It was the first time that the hosts had conceded four tries at home in this competition for more than seven years, when they last lost a home fixture, against a Chabal inspired Sale in October 2008.
The two points were a just reward for the bold approach shown by the Ospreys who went into the game targeting tries, turning down some early three pointers, and Gibbes said the team could be proud of their efforts.
“It’s definitely a good result. That’s what we came here to do, to score four tries and see where that left us.
“We trained those things, and for that come off and for the boys to have the courage to play from their line like that sort of sums up the night I guess really. We knew we had to go 12 rounds with this team and the boys stuck to it and we're just incredibly proud to come away with two points.
“We needed to score four tries, that’s how we felt we would get some points coming away from here so we went in to try and score tries. Teams don’t come here and hang on. You’ve got to come here and play. If you don’t, you lose, by big points. At 20 points to three nothing changed for us.
“It was important that we kept doing what we came here to do, and we made a great start to the second half to pull us back into it. We slipped off a bit and that was disappointing but what a finish from the boys and they deserve huge credit.”
Gibbes spoke proudly of the character shown throughout the match, insisting that there is huge room for growth in the squad.
“It could make a huge difference in the pool in the long run, to take two points out of this, it’s massive” said Gibbes.
“For us to keep moving forward it’s really important. We’ve worked hard to try and build the right culture in our environment and you saw there today that we are heading in the right direction. We aren’t the finished article, by any stretch of the imagination, but to leave here with two points is something everybody can be proud of.
“We’ll take that today and get back to Llandarcy on Tuesday to start picking it apart and working out where we go from here with the Blues next for us.
“That performance was about a group of guys who want to grow together, who want to play for this cause and that’s really pleasing for a coach. We’re heading in the right direction, and if we stick at it this group will just continue growing. For a young group they’ve stacked up bags of experience over the last year or two and it’ll stand us in good stead.”
Meanwhile, after kicking nine points, Dan Biggar also paid tribute to the team spirit that had been displayed throughout the contest.
“What happened is just a huge testament to the boys” he said:
“We’re fully aware we haven’t got the star names of teams like Clermont, Toulon and Saracens but what we have got is a huge amount of spirit.
“Fair play to the boys for sticking at it. It’s the best club atmosphere in the world, an absolutely incredible stadium out here and the boys rose to the challenge. If you'd given us two points beforehand we'd have certainly taken it.
"Looking back on the game we're probably a bit disappointed that we didn't get a win, but all in all we're ecstatic with two points.”
The fly-half echoed Gibbes’ comments about the Ospreys game plan for the day, saying their ambitious approach had paid off.
"It was one of those in which we thought we're not going to come here and cling on and get a bonus point by kicking penalties" Biggar.continued.
"Not many teams have come here and lost 12-9 or something like that. We've made a bold decision and luckily it paid off in the end and we've managed to pick up two points.
“We thought ‘were we going to come away with a losing bonus point by kicking penalties and grinding a result ou’t? Probably not. We wanted to put a little bit of pressure on them and see if we could unearth a few cracks and really test them. To be fair to Clermont, they stood tall for the first half.
“At half-time, we said we have got to keep going, we aren’t going to peg our way back by kicking penalties, we have got to chance our arm. If it comes off, or if we lose by 40 points, at least we’ve given it a go.
“The lads dug in extremely well because any team could have dropped their heads at half-time going in 20-3 down and coming out for the second into the wind and against this kind of side in Clermont.
“We’ve still got lots of work to do but to come away from the first two rounds in Europe and games against Exeter and Clermont, probably the two form teams in Europe, with six points is exceptional.”
The Ospreys now face Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium in the PRO12 next Saturday (3.00pm KO) with Bordeaux Begles the next European Rugby Champions Cup opposition, also at the Liberty on Saturday 12th December at 5.15pm.
Tickets for both those games are on sale now at ospreysrugby.com/buytickets – Print at home and beat the matchday queues