Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors match preview
Played two, lost two. It makes unhappy reading for the Ospreys and their visiting rivals Glasgow Warriors.
Both sides made the play-offs last season playing high quality rugby but so far this season they are looking painfully short of that standard. For the Ospreys it is their lack of cohesion in their back play. For Glasgow it is their weak defence and their instability at half back that seems to be a pressing concern.
With regards to Glasgow’s defence, it makes the decision to have last season’s defence coach Gary Mercer, who helped Glasgow to the second best defensive record in the league, removed from his post all the more baffling. Glasgow’s strength was based on their defence, wearing their opponent down and then taking advantage of it. Not so this season.
Both teams need to reach the top of their game and quickly if they are going to have a realistic chance of truly challenging for the playoffs. Two losses is not disastrous, but the reasons behind the losses are a greater cause for concern and are problems that need to be fixed – and quickly.
Looking towards Friday night’s fixture at the Liberty Stadium, it is shaping up into being another forward dominated display with the hope that the backs, from the Ospreys at the very least, can keep their composure to produce the points that will be needed.
The backrow area looks set to be another great battle with the likes of Tipuric and Barclay contending with each other. Fly half will also be key. Glasgow have rightly started with the more conservative and stable Weir over Jackson, and will hope that his kicking is point perfect to give them the territory and points they need. The Ospreys have returned Dan Biggar to the starting line- up. Against such a physical pack of forwards it is the sensible option to play a 10 that is defensively strong and more tactically aware. It makes the decision to start with the more creative Morgan last week against Ulster all the more baffling.
The Ospreys have a far better centre partnership and this will be where they will look to press their advantage. The packs are evenly matched so it will be in the back play that this game is won or lost. The match is looking to be a close and tense affair with the pressure to win affecting both teams, but for the home side to put right last week’s loss, and reward their fans with a much needed win.
Ospreys: Richard Fussell; Hanno Dirksen, Jonathan Spratt, Ashley Beck, Tom Grabham; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Duncan Jones, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Ian Gough, Ian Evans, George Stowers, Justin Tipuric (capt), Joe Bearman.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Ryan Bevington, Joe Rees, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Lewis, Kahn Fotuali’i, Matthew Morgan, Andrew Bishop.
Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Mike Cusack, Tom Ryder, Ali Kellock (capt), John Barclay, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Finlay Gillies, George Hunter, Gordon Reid, James Eddie, Angus Macdonald, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Sean Lamont.