Seb writes for therugbycity.wordpress.com and is an Ospreys’ fan
I sometimes rue the fact that the internet is written in ink, and not pencil. Mainly because in my last entry I predicted Ospreys to win their opening match of the RaboDirect PRO12 against Treviso, and that’s there for all to see. Ospreys went into that match unbeaten in the competition in their last seven games; the last being the defeat of Leinster in the Dublin Final. The signs were good.
Fuelled by sweet memories of RaboDirect PRO12 triumph, it is highly doubtful that Wales’ most successful region went into their first match of the 2012-13 season thinking they might lose; especially against an Italian side that finished tenth in the table last time around. But lose is what Alun Wyn Jones’ side did.
Then they lost the next two matches to Ulster and Glasgow, and it seemed to Ospreys fans that the season might already be over before it had really started. (Damningly, those two losses were played at home). To make matters worse, the next two fixtures were against the high-flying Scarlets and streetwise Munster: two teams you don’t want to be facing coming off the back of three defeats.
If, as Rocky Balboa says in the eponymous film, it isn't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, then the Ospreys exemplified that steely resolve in winning both matches convincingly. Their next fixture in the RaboDirect is against Connacht at the Liberty Stadium on 27 October, which is eminently winnable.
Leinster will then be welcomed to Swansea on the eve of Guy Fawkes Night, which could prove to be one of the more explosive encounters at this stage of the season. That’s one grudge match I'm looking forward to watching.
Biggest surprise so far: Losing in the opening game away to Treviso, followed by losses to Ulster and Glasgow, was a bit of a shock. However, the biggest surprise was to come: subsequent back-to-back victories over top dogs Scarlets and Munster.
Most valuable player so far: I would usually say Dan ‘the Man’ Biggar, but hooker Richard Hibbard is playing like a man on a mission – probably because he is on one: to prove those critics who have been on his back since the Australia tour wrong.
Overall season prediction: Despite the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde approach to the early stages of the PRO12, I still foresee Ospreys being there on the day of the Final, wondering why everyone was so worried at the start of the season.
Other predictions: Treviso's Robert Barbieri is only two tries behind Tim Visser’s eight. Treviso are going well in the PRO12 –just ask Ospreys, Scarlets and Edinburgh – and if they can carry on in the same manner, there’s an outside chance we might see an Italian player topping the try chart. And he's a flanker!
Who’s going to win the RaboDirect PRO12? Being a proud Welshman, it’s sad to see the Blues and Dragons struggling. Ever the patriot, a Final between Scarlets and Ospreys would see the boys from Swansea take the spoils.
Read Seb’s blog at therugbycity.wordpress.com