Holley predicts huge back row battle

Guinness PRO12 Editor

12 May 2010


News, Ospreys

Ospreys coach Sean Holley has praised the Magners League Play-Off system for producing "the most competitive league season since regional rugby began in Wales in 2003."

Holley’s side go into the first semi-final against Glasgow Warriors at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night looking to stay on course for their third Magners League title. And Holley believes the best four teams have made it through to the Play-Offs.

“It has been the most competitive Magners League season since regional rugby began here in Wales. The best four teams have made it through to the Play-Offs,” said Holley.

“You can tell that from the number of wins each team has managed and I guess it would have been a slight injustice had Leinster not finished on top having won the most matches.

“But as I was listening to and watching those final games on Sunday everything was in doubt right up until the last few seconds. At one stage we were on top of the table, then Glasgow were on course for a home tie and we weren’t sure who we were going to be playing.

“The bonus point system has worked and every team has really had something to play for, whether it be a top four finish or Heineken Cup qualification. Sides like Ulster have had an indifferent season, but I’ve no doubt they will be a force to be reckoned with again next season along with the two new Italian sides.

“We are delighted with where we are at the moment and the pressure is off us now. The pressure was to make the Play-Offs, and get a home draw, but now I just want the players to go out and enjoy themselves.”

The Ospreys are still smarting from losing out to Biarritz Olympique in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and know that victory over Glasgow will give them a chance of hosting the inaugural Magners League Grand Final should Munster upset Leinster in Dublin on Saturday night.

“We are now into cup rugby and both teams will be desperate to reach a major final. The back row battle between Glasgow’s all-international trio and our own Ryan Jones, Jerry Collins and Marty Holah is going to be hugely significant,” added Holley.

“Johnnie Beattie is great at picking up at the base of the scrum for both Scotland and Glasgow, John Barclay is a real pain and Kelly Brown adds the steel. They have a really good mix and balance there.

“But our front five has been very good in the last month and the extra physicality they bring to the game could prove the difference.”

Tickets are selling fast, with more than 1,000 per day being sold in the early part of the week and the Ospreys players are hoping for a bumper crowd to roar them into the Magners League Grand Final on Saturday, 29 May.
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