Opposition View: Ospreys

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This week on the Opposition View we welcome Ospreys fans Dan, Mike, Dai and the Ospreys Blog. Plenty of strong opinions after a season where the Swansea-based have struggled to really get going so far.

How pleased are you with Ospreys season so far?

Dan: I’m depressed and disgusted with the Ospreys, as I knew I’d be.

Dai: This season has been frustrating, we’ve been good in parts, awful in others. The post-Lions rest period didn’t help in terms of getting our best players back.

Os Blog: Disappointed, but it was so blatantly obvious from the back end of last season that a season like this was on the horizon. We’ve had decent performances in Europe and when our internationals are playing and we’re full strength we look like a good team in patches, but as soon as the likes of AWJ, Biggar etc are away we fall apart without their on-field leadership.

Mike: Not pleased at all.

What are your thoughts on Steve Tandy?
Dan: Tandy is the most mentally negligible and incompetent man in the industry, a selector of monumental capriciousness, a recruiter with a singular lack of vision, a tactician worthy of the most purblind WWI general.

Dai: I have no issue with Steve Tandy. I know there’s a big ‘TandyOut’ momentum but in my opinion he’s doing ok, at the end of the day all of the coaches in Wales are not competing on a level playing field with England and France. If you look back not long ago Scarlets fans wanted Pivac out and many years ago Cardiff fans couldn’t stand Dai Young!

Os Blog: I feel sorry for the bloke. Don’t get me wrong I want him to leave as soon as possible and after a couple of heavy defeats I’ve voiced my ‘TandyOut’ opinions on Twitter, but some of the personal abuse he gets from people on Twitter is pretty disgusting. I’m by no means defending him because as a coach he is driving us into the ground with his outdated tactics, but some of the abuse he has gotten is pretty disgraceful for someone who, at the end of the day, is giving their all for the region and could *whisper it quietly* be a small contributing factor as to why the team look so bereft of confidence, as booing him when he appears on the big screen doesn’t really do anyone any favours. Personally I think his time is up and he should leave at the of the season, but the levels of abuse he gets is a step too far.

Mike: Probably a good bloke but not a head coach. Weird selections, terrible tactics and gaping holes in the squad. Either needs to go or have a DoR above him.

Steve Tandy has certainly felt the wrath of a lot of Ospreys fans this season

What has been the standout game?
Dan: The loss to Glasgow was standout for glorious, typical, expected capitulation. Tandy at his peak.

Dai: Two games; Clermont home and Saracens away. Both showed that with our best team on the pitch we could compete, maybe not win but at least compete.

Os Blog: It would have to be Northampton away in the Champions Cup, Saracens away was up there but as we won the Northampton game I’ve picked it. Obviously Northampton are nowhere near the powerhouse they were a couple of seasons ago but the fact we were coming off a run of form which saw us lose 37-10 to Edinburgh, 47-6 to Glasgow and 36–10 to Munster to then go to Franklin’s Gardens and get a bonus point win was something to behold. After 60 mins we were 43-8 up as well before a mini collapse which wasn’t good for my blood pressure! Even more remarkable was that was our first Champions Cup away win since 2009 and to do in that fashion in Northampton makes it my standout game.

Mike: Sarries away. Boys fronted up well when everyone (including me) thought it would be a cricket score.

Who has been the standout player for you?
Dan: Dan Evans, by default, for punctuating his usual errors with some good tries in Europe.

Dai: Alun Wyn Jones.

Os Blog: Despite a difficult season we’ve had a few standout performers and this was a tough question but I’ve gone for former Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies. I know he struggled big time last season with injury but he didn’t impress me at all when he played but since being dropped by Wales I think he’s realised he needs to up his game and he’s really done that recently. Was a standout player in the back to back games against Northampton recently and would throughly deserve a Wales recall come 6N time. Let’s hope he puts in another big shift against his former team on Saturday!

Mike: Tough one this. Arhip and Watkin going well but Dan Evs probably edges it.

Dan Evans is a favourite at the Liberty Stadium

What are the hopes for the rest of the season now?Dan: I hope the Ospreys lose every single game, so the board is shamed into deep-sizing Tandy into well-earned oblivion.

Dai: Win our next three games with bonus points and see what happens from there.

Os Blog: Well Mr Tandy still thinks we can get a QF spot in the Pro14! I really can’t see that happening though. I think at best in the league we could aim for a Champions Cup play off spot but I think that will be a tough ask as we’ll lose about a dozen players to Wales in the Six Nations and we have some tough games in that period. So as much I’d love a nice league run and to move up the table I really can’t see us getting any higher than 5th. We’re still in contention in Europe and the blind optimist that I am, I fancy our chances of getting out of the group. Sarries haven’t been great recently and if we front up and get in their faces in front of what will be a decent crowd I think we could possibly edge them which would knock them out. We then have a lovely easy away game at Clermont to finish off on… In all seriousness we got two points out there two seasons ago and possibly should have won. I’m not saying I expect a win out in Clermont, because that would make me deluded, but they’re 9th in the Top14, are missing their top players, lost at home to Castres on the weekend and will already be through as group winners by the time we go out there (providing they beat Northampton which they should do) so I think there’s a chance of getting out of the group which would be one hell of an achievement.

Mike: I’d love it if we could get out of European group, but given our latest injuries that’s now looking unlikely. Would be nice to go on a run and at least get into 4th in our conference.

What have you made of Cardiff Blues generally so far?
Dan: Cardiff are what they’ve been under Wilson – technically well coached up front but under-manned, uninspiring and lacking board level direction.

Dai: Hit-and-miss. I’ve seen you play well but also awful in a few early season games. I think Anscombe is a class 10 and to me he looks like he’s got everything apart from maybe the kicking consistency. I was gutted that the Ellis Jenkins to Ospreys rumour didn’t happen.

Os Blog: Its been a weird one. Sometimes you’ve looked excellent and then other times you’ve looked a bit all over the place. You fronted up well against the Turks on Sunday and probably should have won. You have a centre pairing to be jealous of (Lee Lo & Halaholo) and a good coach in Danny Wilson. Your win at Toulouse showed what you can do away from home but then Sale away showed the other side of what can happen to you away from home. It’s been a case of inconsistency. A couple of seasons ago (and I mean this in the nicest possible way) you were pretty awful no two ways about it but under DW there has been a lot of improvement it’s just finding a level of consistency.

Mike: Definitely improving but sometimes flatter to deceive.

Cardiff Blues beat Ospreys the last time the two teams faced off

Prediction for Saturday?
Dan: Rugby will be the loser.

Dai: I expect an Ospreys win Saturday, not comfortably but by 5-8 points. There will be a big fuss in the press/social media about the crowd which I don’t expect to hit more than 10k.

Os Blog: We’ve already played you this season, albeit in the AWC, but both sides picked relatively strong sides with a lot of regional and international experience. We came out on top that day but both sides will be aided with a few more internationals this weekend, and I think as long as we stay focused on you and don’t concentrate on Europe we should get the job done. Ospreys 29-16 Cardiff Blues.

Mike: I was fairly confident until Dan Lydiate got injured, now not so much. Think it’ll be tight. We’ll have loads of possession and do nothing with it. Will probably be won by the odd penalty, hopefully by us!

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