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'Extremely difficult... We are going away to South Africa, away to Leinster'

By Simon Thomas
Sam Parry of Ospreys dives to score a try as Erich Cronje (L) and Marius Louw (R) of Emirates Lions dive inn attempt to tackle during the United Rugby Championship match between the Ospreys and Emirates Lions at the Swansea.com Stadium on March 30, 2024 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

The Ospreys were the big movers over the URC weekend, leaping up from eleventh to seventh with a 36-21 bonus point victory over the Emirates Lions in Swansea.

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It puts them firmly back in the play-off mix and they also have a EPCR Challenge Cup last 16 tie at home to Sale to look forward to next weekend.

As head coach Toby Booth points out, they are exceeding expectations.

“We know we are in the hunt, we know we can go toe to toe with it and that’s the exciting bit,” he said.

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Jake White on Leinster experience

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Jake White on Leinster experience

“To be fair, no one at the start of the season would have said that.

“We are still where we need to be in the URC, in and around it, and we can enjoy our European experience knowing we are coming back into a competitive position in the league, which is great.”

When they do return to URC action they will face testing trips to the Stormers, the Bulls and Leinster, before hosting the Dragons and facing Cardiff on Judgement Day.

“It is extremely difficult,” said Booth.

“We are going away to South Africa, we go away to Leinster, we have got Welsh derbies. We know how hard this is going to be, but no-one gave us a chance when we went to South Africa the last time (they beat the Lions in Jo’burg in the Challenge Cup).

“There is a lot of talent stacked in a lot of different sides, but the effort of this team, its fighting spirit and its cohesiveness is very strong and that can get you a long way.

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United Rugby Championship

P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Leinster
13
11
2
0
54
2
Glasgow
13
10
3
0
49
3
Bulls
13
9
4
0
45
4
Munster
13
8
4
1
43
5
Stormers
13
8
5
0
39
6
Benetton
13
8
4
1
37
7
Ospreys
13
7
6
0
35
8
Ulster
13
7
6
0
35
9
Edinburgh
13
8
5
0
34
10
Connacht
13
7
6
0
34
11
Lions
13
6
7
0
34
12
Cardiff Rugby
13
3
9
1
24
13
Sharks
13
3
10
0
18
14
Scarlets
13
3
10
0
16
15
Gwent Dragons
13
3
10
0
15
16
Zebre
13
1
11
1
15

“We are competitive and the players are enjoying themselves.”

Hooker Sam Parry, who made his 150th appearance for the region on the weekend, added:

“We are a real tight group and the boys care about each other. You talk about effort, but that’s just a given now for this team. The effort is always there. We don’t give in and we keep working for each other.”

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Parry marked his landmark outing with a touchdown, while Player of the Match Morgan Morris also crossed from No 8 amid a 5-3 try count in a helter skelter game which featured a host of turnovers.

Putting the win in context, Booth said:

“You saw what a good side the Lions are from what they did to Connacht last week.

“They are a difficult outfit because they play. They can create you problems. Having the discipline that we showed to understand how to win the contest is one of the most pleasing things and obviously then the effort and application to do that.

“I am delighted for the players, but we can be much better again and that’s the exciting part.”

There was another Welsh win over the weekend, with Dragons RFC beating Zebre Parma 20-13 at Rodney Parade to move off the bottom of the table. Commenting on a first victory since New Year’s Day, skipper Steff Hughes said:

“It’s been a tough block for us, but you learn a lot about people around you in these situations.

Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
0
5
Tries
3
4
Conversions
3
0
Drop Goals
0
115
Carries
137
5
Line Breaks
5
8
Turnovers Lost
19
9
Turnovers Won
6

“It’s good for us to get this result. There’s a lot of hard work gone in and we are just pleased to get the win. “Hopefully it will give us confidence for our run-in. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to be positive and get some momentum to finish the season.”

Head coach Dai Flanagan added: “We looked like a team desperate to win.

“We looked edgy at times in attack and gave away some easy penalties, but there’s a massive want to get better and our defence was superb.

“That’s four wins from our last six games at home and we’ve got a couple more to come to keep climbing the league.”

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Comments

1 Comment
T
Turkish 110 days ago

As a Leinster supporter, I miss hating the Ospreys, don’t miss the defeats but the league needs a strong Ospreys. Great to see them rebuilding.

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