Bowe confident fringe stars can slay Connacht
Tommy Bowe is hoping that a renewal of rivalries with Irish team-mates can erase yet another European embarrassment after Treviso became the latest club to clip the under-achieving Ospreys' wings.
Only a late penalty from nerveless Heineken Cup debutant Matthew Morgan salvaged a draw for the Welsh side at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in a 26-26 thriller and Bowe is hoping his side can regain the winning habit in the first of double-header against Irish sides, starting in Connacht this Saturday.
"It's a huge couple of weeks again for us really," said the league table-toppers' Irish World Cup star. "Obviously, we were disappointed with the draw in Treviso, but we can't dwell on it, because we've got another tough run of games coming up. The Sportsground is always a very difficult place to play.
"We've lost a few of our Welsh guys again, but that gives a great opportunity for some of the others to come back into the team and really put their stamp on it and help us to cement our place at the top of the league over the next two weeks."
The absence of seven players on international duty with Wales, plus a number of ongoing injury concerns, means that, just as it was at the start of the season when the Rugby World Cup was on, the line-up will have a youthful look to it, albeit Bowe feels his side should use this as a positive motivation.
"It's a great chance for them and anyone who's an Osprey should be excited about it. Some of the guys who had the chance back in September have remained in and around the team after everyone came back from the World Cup and they've done very well."
The Ospreys have already played, and beaten, the two Irish provinces this season, recording a narrow 26-21 win over Connacht at the end of September before ending Munster's 18-month unbeaten home record the following week with a hard-fought 17-13 victory at Thomond Park.
Those two games were played during the Rugby World Cup period, and although only Welsh internationals will be absent this next two weeks, Bowe says that the Ospreys will know exactly what to expect.
"I would have guessed that Connacht wouldn't have been missing too many players when we played them earlier in the season, so it's maybe a little bit unfair to suggest that was the case. It was a good win against Connacht at the Liberty in September.
"Certainly Munster, when they come to the Liberty next week off the back of a good two weeks for them in Europe, they'll be coming full of confidence and I'd say, with a strong squad, they'll be looking to take advantage of an opportunity to play us without the Wales boys.
"The Liberty is a tough place to come. We don't lose many home games, especially when there's a big crowd there, but we know that Munster will believe they can win the game so we'll have to be at our best.
"We need to front up over the next two weeks, with everybody in it for the cause together, to ensure we stay up the top ahead of the Welsh derbies."