Toby Booth Ospreys

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12: Ospreys' Head Coach Toby Booth during the EPCR Challenge Cup Quarter Final match between Gloucester Rugby and Ospreys at Kingsholm Stadium on April 12, 2024 in Gloucester, England.(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Ospreys Face Final Judgement . . . But Verdicts Will Matter Elsewhere As They Bid For Play-Offs

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BKT URC ROUND 18 PREVIEW

Cardiff Rugby v Ospreys, Saturday, 5.30pm

By Simon Thomas

It’s Judgement Day for the Ospreys in more ways than one on Saturday and the equation is simple, yet also complicated.

Their own objective is clear. To have any chance of making the URC play-offs, they have to secure a bonus point victory against Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium in the second game of the double-header.

But they also require a series of other results to go their way.

They need the Lions to get no more than a point away to the Stormers, for either Benetton or Edinburgh to come away pointless from their meeting in Treviso and for Connacht to miss out on maximum points away to Leinster.

There is also the possibility of them pipping Benetton on points difference should they finish level with them on match points, but that would require a 26-point swing.

The bottom line is they will know where they stand when they take the field as their rivals will have played their matches.

All they can hope is they are still in the mix by that point.

“There is nothing we can do about results elsewhere,” said head coach Toby Booth.

“We can only control what we do. We will put our best foot forward. If we end up falling short, that will just give us the motivation to keep going. We are trying to become a top eight team and that’s the next line in the sand for progress.

“Have we improved this season? Yeah, you bet your life we have. We have won more games and everyone in the group should take a lot of credit for that.

“We are a find-a-way team that wants to keep pushing and keep getting better.

“We are not going to look down, we are going to look up and keep looking at what it’s going to take to get up there.”

Booth is expecting a stiff test from a Cardiff team who have been involved in a succession of close encounters in the URC this season, while their last match saw them beat the Sharks 36-14 out in Durban.

“I think Jockey (coach Matt Sherratt) has done a great job,” he said.

“They are a good team. You don’t go to South Africa and win if you are not a good team, you just don’t.

“They have got a good history, they’ve got a great fan base, they play a nice style of rugby.

“You just look at their losing bonus points this season. It’s narrow margins.

“It will be a good challenge, for sure. We are going to have to go really, really well to win, let alone to win with a bonus point.”

Giving his thoughts on the Ospreys, Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt said: “They have improved during the season.

“When I look at them compared to when we played them on New Year’s Day, they are a much better team now.

“Their defence has improved and their attack is developing nicely as well, with a bit more ball movement.

“They are well coached and they have got good team spirit.”

With Josh Adams having been ruled out with a groin problem, Theo Cabango joins the newly re-signed Mason Grady on the wings for Cardiff, while Tinus de Beer is back at fly-half after sitting out the start for the first time this season against the Sharks.

There will be final appearances for the club for the departing Rhys Carre, Willis Halaholo, Lopeti Timani and Shane Lewis-Hughes.

Meanwhile, the play-off chasing Ospreys show just the two changes from the bonus point win over the Dragons last time out, with Owen Watkin and Max Nagy coming into the back-line.

Scarlets v Dragons RFC, Saturday, 3pm

There’s a new home for Judgement Day this year, with the Cardiff City Stadium the setting for the annual Welsh derby double header.

Scarlets coach Dwayne Peel, whose team take on the Dragons in a west v east opener, says: “I think it will be a good occasion.

“You only have to have a look at the stadium and the pitch. Hopefully the atmosphere will be good and we’ll get a good crowd. I’ve been there before watching Wales play football and the atmosphere is always electric.

“If we can recreate something similar to that, I think it’s important for Welsh rugby and for us as regions to embrace that and make it a good day.

“I am sure there will be kids coming here to watch rugby for the first time and we need to try and create as much positivity as we can and I think everyone has got a part in that.”

In terms of Scarlets team news, Tonga Test lock Sam Lousi returns from a rib injury, while Sam Costelow swaps with fellow Welsh international Ioan Lloyd at fly-half.

Ahead of his team’s final game of the campaign, Peel added: “Obviously results haven’t been fully on our side this year.

“We would like to have won a few more games, there is no doubt.

“But we are determined to finish the season strongly and on a high. It’s an important fixture for us.”

Adding his thoughts, skipper Ryan Elias said: “I feel like we have grown a lot over the last five, six matches and taken steps forward, producing some of our better performances.

“We want to finish on a high now and go out on the right note. We are definitely motivated for this last game and will be raring to go.”

Giving his take on Judgement Day, Dragons coach Dai Flanagan said: “It’s the best of Welsh rugby, isn’t it?

“You would like to think if anything will inspire the next generation it’s coming along to an event like this.

“You have seen the energy and passion Wales football show in the stadium. If we can get a good turn out, it can drive that and motivate the boys.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd there because we’ve got the best players in Wales playing.

“There is always bragging rights on derby days and it would be nice to finish on the right end of it against the Scarlets and give ourselves a feel-good factor going into the summer. So it’s massively important.”

Cardiff Skipper Liam Belcher Aims To Make Judgement Day Payback Day

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