Ospreys still chasing top six spot

Date published: April 2 2016

The Ospreys are still hopeful of finishing in the top six of the PRO12's standings, despite facing a huge task to achieve that goal.

After beating the Dragons 26-20 in their Welsh derby at Rodney Parade on Friday, they are in eighth spot on the table with 44 points from 19 matches.

With Zebre and Treviso occupying the two bottom places in the standings a place in the top six will be enough for Ospreys to qualify for the Champions Cup.

Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees said although the odds are stacked against them, the region will refuse to throw in the towel.

“In terms of the season, and where we are, it’s forlorn hope perhaps in what we are chasing, but we will chase," he said after the win over the Dragons.

"We wanted to come here, fully respectful of the Dragons and the players they’ve got, the fire power they’ve got, we thought we could get ourselves a good brand of open rugby today if we got our platform more effectively than we did last week. I think we got that right.

“Three games to go, we will chase, we’ll be positive. It’s a two-week lead in to Treviso, a home game at the Liberty, and we’ll enjoy the momentum hopefully from this game. 

"Three bonus point wins certainly is the goal, we’ve spoken about 20 points. We have looked at the fixtures and, if truth be told, Munster, Edinburgh, they could stretch us, but we’ll be hot on their heels whatever.”

The Ospreys went into the game with a growing injury list in double figures, even before the late withdrawal of James King and Eli Walker, but Rees found the positives in adversity.

“We are getting to our bare bones really” agreed Rees. 

“There are high profile people not in the squad and then over the last 24/48 hours we’ve had three internationals pull out of the side for tonight, Paul James was originally named, then Eli Walker and James King today. 

"People are stepping up though. We’ve got youngsters coming in, Cracknell and Underhill again, Beard, Owen Watkin, Thornton has come in today on the bench with Gareth Thomas, and they’ve done good jobs. 

"Then during the game, we lose people like Jeff Hassler early on, Brendon Leonard comes om at openside because of Sam Underhill and we just dig in.

“This internal competition can only make us bigger and stronger for the future, not withstanding the little dip where we are at this moment in time.”