Tommy Bowe firmly believes the Ospreys can make history and become the first side to successfully defend the Magners League title.
The Welsh region limped into the Play-Offs with a last gasp penalty from James Hook to bag a 12-10 victory in Round 22 against bottom placed Aironi to set up semi-final clash with Munster at Thomond Park.
It will be the fifth time the two sides have met this season, with Munster leading 3-1 to date with two home victories already to their credit. But Bowe believes anything can happen in knock-out rugby.
“We aren’t going to give up our title without a fight and I don’t see any reason why we can’t hold onto it,” said the Irish flyer.
“It has been an up and down last few weeks for us, but anything can happen in the knock-out stages. We are the champions and we are determined to keep hold of the trophy.
“We have the quality within our squad and, even though it has been a disappointing season, we know we can turn everything around by winning in Limerick and reaching the Grand Final.”
Playing in Ireland certainly holds no fears for the Ospreys after their mini tour of the country at the back end of last season. They took a winning bonus point in Ulster, beat Munster at Thomond Park and fell narrowly against Leinster before returning to the RDS and beating the home side to win the inaugural Grand Final.
That made them the best team in the Magners League and coach Sean Holley made it one of his side’s major goals for the season to become the first team to win back-to-back titles.
“It was a super couple of weeks in Ireland at the end of last season and I ended up winning my first game at Thomond Park and beating Leinster for the first time,” said Bowe.
“Thomond Park is a very difficult place to go, especially with the big crowds and super support they get there. But our win there last season has given us the confidence we need to go there this weekend and come away with another victory.
“We were in a good position there in the Heineken Cup game after 65 minutes earlier in the season, but coughed up possession and they punished us. This time we know we have to concentrate and play for the full 80 minutes.
“We want to keep the Munster fans quiet from the start – not give them anything to shout about. It was a little bit like that in the Heineken Cup match earlier in the season, and when they played against Harlequins in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
“We have watched a few bits of that famous Harlequins victory at Thomond Park and we know we will need the bounce of the ball and a bit of luck on our side to follow in their footsteps.
“But we had such a great day out in Dublin in last year’s Grand Final that we want to repeat it.”