Ospreys skipper Ryan Jones has no doubt that the introduction of the Play-Off system will lead to a superb specatcle in a week-and-a-half’s time.
Jones will lead a star-studded Ospreys side to Dublin a week on Saturday for the inaugural Magners League Grand Final and the in-form No8 believes the clash with Leinster will provide a fitting way to end a hugely-exciting season.
“You have to give credit to the way that the Play-Offs have brought extra excitement,” said Jones, who was a Magners League winner in 2005 and 2007 and is now aiming for a hat-trick of titles.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’ve taken it to the final game with everything to play for.
“The Play-Offs kept the season alive for us and others, and I’m sure that the final will be a great spectacle and a real advert for the Magners League.”
The Ospreys may have eventually finished second in the standings at the end of the regular season but Jones isn’t far off the mark in suggesting that his team’s push for Magners League glory could have petered out long ago under the old system.
Jones and co were a fair way behind eventual first-place finishers Leinster for large parts of the season and could easily have lost sight of their goal had the tournament been decided on a straight-league format.
But the introduction of the Play-Offs allowed the Ospreys to remain focused, always knowing they had a realistic chance of securing a semi-final spot.
That semi took place against Glasgow Warriors at the Liberty Stadium last weekend and, although the Ospreys weren’t at their fluent best like they had been in the second half of their win against the Dragons in Round 18, there can be no doubt that the first-ever Magners League Play-Off was a special occasion.
“It was pretty physical to be honest. It was a great competition and I think it made for a great semi-final,” added Jones.
“This is what Play-Offs are all about. There were swings in the way it was going. Glasgow were big, physical and they were definitely uncompromising and I’d guess it made for good viewing.
“It was a big game, a tough game, and I thought they boys did a pretty professional job.
“We made some errors, but we didn’t let it get to us and I think we thoroughly deserved to win.
“I think throughout the year we’ve shown glimpses of being the team that we want to be and can be, and this is what it’s about – the end of the season with everything to play for.
“We have to fancy our chances against anyone. We’ve got great players ourselves who have won things and we need to back ourselves. It’s going to be a one off game and winner takes all.”