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French giants back Ospreys

Guinness PRO12 Editor

18 Jan 2010

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Clermont Auvergne are backing Magners League outfit Ospreys to join them in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup next weekend.

Clermont’s victory over the Welsh region means they are now heavy favourites to top Pool 3 ahead of their final round trip to Viadana.

The Ospreys, meanwhile, face double Heineken Cup winners Leicester Tigers knowing defeat would signal a premature end to their own European involvement. 

But veteran Clermont stars Mario Ledesma and Aurelien Rougerie do not expect the Ospreys to be beaten for a second consecutive week.

Instead the pair believe Ryan Jones and co will do them a favour by knocking out the Tigers and allowing Clermont to claim top spot in the pool with a bonus-point win on Italian soil.

"I think the Ospreys will beat Leicester and finish second," Argentine hooker Ledesma told the Western Mail.

"Ospreys made too many errors to win the game [against us]. Our discipline was very good – we gave away only two penalties – but they made mistakes and gave us too many kicks at goal. 

"We hope they won’t play like this against Leicester next week. If they play as we know they can, Ospreys will be able to beat Leicester in Swansea.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Rougerie, although the French international wing admits that the Ospreys are unlikely to have it all their own way against a formidable Leicester outfit. 

"I don’t know (who will win), but I hope it is Ospreys, because they are a great team with a lot of quality, with good forwards and quick backs," said the Clermont skipper. 

"It gives me a lot of pleasure to play against a team like that because we move the ball and play a lot against this side. 

"I hope Ospreys win, but Leicester are stronger in the forwards. I think Ospreys backs’ are better than those of Leicester but it is impossible for me to predict the outcome with any certainty."