Jonathan Davies: Resurgent Ospreys leave Leicester clueless

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The Independent Online

Ospreys won this at a canter to add another boost to the status of Welsh rugby. Winning the Six Nations Grand Slam will obviously go down as by far the biggest achievement of the season but don't underestimate the value of a Welsh region winning a cup final against one of the major English clubs; at Twickenham of all places.

While it is true Leicester were a shadow of the team that built an illustrious past, the Ospreys were superb. Their blitz defence was awesome and Leicester didn't seem to have any idea how to find a way through it. The Ospreys also created an exciting succession of chances and that could have brought a load more points.

Leicester's problem was they just couldn't work out why they were being contained so easily. They were absolutely clueless in how to deal with their opponents. Even occupying a base close to the Ospreys line for six or seven minutes near the end brought them nothing but frustration.

The Leicester forwards were nowhere as dominant as they can be. They were lethargic even, but that might have been the penalty of following a naïve tactical plan that seemed to have negativity stamped all over it. Picking Ollie Smith on the wing to counter the threat of Shane Williams was a big mistake because it meant leaving the pace of Tom Varndell locked up on the bench. You need speed to keep Shane under control and, in any case, much of his threat comes from broken play away from the wing.

The Ospreys can at least sympathise because they didn't perform against Saracens in the Heineken Cup a week earlier. They will be more disappointed at that display after the way they performed yesterday. Their pack really fronted up to Leicester and after weathering Leicester's early storm they took control. Ospreys gave away four penalties in the first 15 minutes, two of which were slotted over by Andy Goode, which showed the pressure they were under. But thereafter the only mystery was why the Ospreys were only leading by one point at the interval.

James Hook controlled the game impressively, Williams frightened them to death every time he took a step and Lee Byrne was as safe and as dangerous as he's been all season. The Ospreys back row made a great job of capitalising on the solid work of their front five. Even out of position at No 6, Ryan Jones provided his usual inspiration and, with the tireless New Zealanders Filo Tiatia and Marty Holah, made up the unit that bossed the game.

By wiping out the memory of their previous week's failure in such stirring fashion, the Ospreys can now go on to greater heights. They are on course to acquire the consistency that marks successful teams like Munster and they can dominate next year's Magners League.

They are capable of so much and are benefiting from the belief that the success of the Welsh team has spread throughout the regions. In Cardiff on Friday night we saw a terrific game between the Blues and the Scarlets and there is no doubt that the resurgence of Welsh rugby is based on highly promising foundations.

But what they all need is for the Magners League to possess the same intensity, week-in, week-out that the English clubs get from the Guinness Premiership. Before yesterday, the Ospreys coach, Lyn Jones, was said to be under pressure. This performance will do him no harm. But when you coach a top team, the pressure will always be on to finish the season with a prize. No doubt, the Leicester back-room will be experiencing that same pressure. They have tough games coming up and I hope yesterday's lessons will be quickly absorbed.

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