Thursday 27 October 2016

Mick O'Driscoll: Ospreys loss leaves us in dogfight for top four spot in Pro12

Mick O'Driscoll

Published 19/02/2016 | 02:30

Munster’s Robin Copeland is tackled by Ospreys duo Josh Matavesi, left, and Dan Baker during last weekend’s Pro 12 clash at Irish Independent Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster’s Robin Copeland is tackled by Ospreys duo Josh Matavesi, left, and Dan Baker during last weekend’s Pro 12 clash at Irish Independent Park. Photo: Sportsfile

Last weekend against Ospreys in Cork was hugely disappointing, especially when we went 17-10 up and didn't manage to put it away.

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After getting three tries there is a point that you reach where you are thinking of the next score, maybe getting the fourth try, and with the wind at our back the conditions were in our favour. Perhaps that's what cost us, we took the foot off the pedal a little thinking we would just kick on.

But unfortunately we didn't, we made a few small errors and Ospreys got back into the game. They got a couple of penalties, took their opportunities and went on to win it.

It was a missed opportunity. We slipped up at home; had we won that game we could have put a bit of a gap between ourselves and the chasing pack, but now they are back in the running for the play-offs again and it looks like it is going to be a good scrap not only for the top four, but for the top six.

No side wants to cough up home advantage and we are that stage where you have to take points from a game so coming away with just one at home was tough to take, but there is a long way to go yet.

This year's Pro12 is a lot more competitive than previous seasons. It shows where the league is at, there are seven or eight teams that can still finish in the top four, and certainly in the top six.


There will definitely be at least two good sides left very disappointed by the end of 2015-16.

The Champions Cup is a big factor in contributing to the step up in competitiveness in the Pro12. Everyone is pushing for those top six places and with the four Irish provinces up there we're all in our own little battles to make sure we stay there.

We are in sixth place with a game in hand over four of the teams above us in the table but that game is no good to us if we don't take points similar to last weekend.

It is going to be a very tough and competitive nine games remaining. We really need to push on with the campaign just to make sure that we reach our objectives.

For us, the main thing now is to keep on improving and see what Glasgow Warriors can bring against us tonight.

They are going to be a really tough test: they are behind us in the league, and are under serious pressure to make the top four also.

Glasgow beat us far too easily in the Pro12 final last year but going into this game we are going to be fairly pragmatic about it.

We have to go over there and put in a performance so that we're in a position to take points. It wasn't a good performance earlier this year against them but we just edged it and now we are in a situation where it is nearly cup rugby each week we take to the field. We need to keep moving up the table and take points wherever we can.

This week we have a few of our internationals back and it's great to have that boost in the squad but Glasgow will also have a number of their Scottish contingent back in the frame so it evens the teams out nicely and hopefully that will make for a really good game.

The returning internationals for both sides add another element and that is really important. Players are hungry for rugby and you hope to see that translate on the field so it should add to the fixture.

A performance and points are paramount in this game tonight but there is a long way to go in the season yet and as we have seen already plenty more can happen before we get down to the final couple of rounds.

We know where we want to go and what we need to do. We are still looking at a top four finish and that's where we want to get to by the end of the season.

We'll put last weekend's defeat at home to Ospreys behind us, and hopefully we can right those wrongs away to Glasgow tonight.

They didn't win the Pro12 last year by accident and going on recent form I think they have shown they are turning a corner this season.

They may have lost to Ulster last weekend but that was a close-run encounter, and despite having lost half of their games this season they are still right there in the thick of it so we all know what they are capable of.

We know we have what it takes to match them but ultimately a win would be a timely confidence booster.

Irish Independent

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