Ospreys urged to cut out unforced errors to turn season around
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth is calling on his players to cut out unforced errors as they seek to turn their form around amid a tricky fixture list.
Toby Booth’s team have only recorded one victory in the BKT United Rugby Championship this season and that was ten weeks ago against Glasgow Warriors.
They opened their Heineken Champions Cup campaign on Sunday and again there was to be no joy as they went down to a 23-17 defeat at home to Leicester Tigers.
Having come up short against the English champs, they now face the French ones, with a trip to Montpellier coming up this weekend. Then come festive BKT URC derbies against the Scarlets and Cardiff, followed by a meeting with league leaders Leinster, ahead of reverse European fixtures.
There is no let up.
Things had looked promising against the Tigers, with Wales prop Nicky Smith capping a mighty first half scrummaging display by burrowing over for a try to secure a 10-6 interval lead. But the hosts fell away after the break, to the obvious frustration of head coach Booth.
“You spend a hell of a lot of effort to get into the main competition and then to not perform is disappointing because we have shown better than that. We just weren’t good enough for long enough,” he said
“Leicester are very much a field position orientated team and if you can’t build enough pressure in the right areas of the pitch when you’ve got the ball, you are going to come second.
“We got into positions to apply pressure and then there were too many unforced errors and too many ill disciplined penalties. That’s the frustration of it.
“If you look at the penalties we conceded, a lot of them were controllable by us – offsides, unforced errors. You just give a territory-based team the opportunity to take the territory and, as a result, it’s a very tough arm wrestle to get out of because they are very good at keeping their territory protected and exposing you in yours.
“We dealt with a lot of their threats, but what we didn’t do is control our own destiny and that was there for the taking. As you can imagine, there was a lot of disappointment in the changing room.”
Looking ahead, Booth said: “We have to go to Montpellier and play the French champions after the English ones and get a win in their back yard, which is going to be very difficult.
“We will need to be collision dominant and deal with their power. Watching them play London Irish, they were very very powerful as a team. They put a lot of pressure on people and we need to make sure we front up in that area because they are big and powerful and we will need to match that.
“All we can do is look at ourselves and look at what we can control better.”
The defeat to Leicester also came at a cost injury-wise, with Wales centre George North taking a heavy blow to his cheekbone in a collision. He is due to undergo a x-ray to see if there is a fracture.
“He has got a big bump under his eye and he has got some neural pain,” said Booth. “We won’t know the nature of it until the swelling goes down. He is pretty uncomfortable.”
The Ospreys are already faced with being without Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe for a long period, due to the misfortune he suffered against Australia last month.
“It’s a shoulder blade injury that will be dictated by the bone growth in it. It’s gutting for him, especially after coming back from the injury profile he has had over the last few years,” said Booth.
Hooker Dewi Lake could potentially be available for the Montpellier game after some eight weeks out with shoulder damage, while fly-half Stephen Myler is in line to return for the Christmas derbies.
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