Sam Parry of the Ospreys runs in to score against the Lions. Pic: Getty Images.

Toby Booth Insists Ospreys Can Prove The Doubters Wrong And Make URC Play-Offs

By Simon Thomas

The Ospreys were the big movers in the URC over the weekend, leaping up from 11th to seventh with a 36-21 bonus point victory over the Lions in Swansea.

It puts them firmly back in the play-off mix and they also have a EPCR Challenge Cup last 16 tie at home to Sale to look forward to next weekend.

As head coach Toby Booth points out, they are exceeding expectations.

“We know we are in the hunt, we know we can go toe to toe with it and that’s the exciting bit,” he said.

“To be fair, no one at the start of the season would have said that.

“We are still where we need to be in the URC, in and around it, and we can enjoy our European experience knowing we are coming back into a competitive position in the league, which is great.”

When they do return to URC action they will face testing trips to the Stormers, the Bulls and Leinster, before hosting the Dragons and facing Cardiff on Judgement Day.

“It is extremely difficult,” said Booth.

“We are going away to South Africa, we go away to Leinster, we have got Welsh derbies. We know how hard this is going to be, but no-one gave us a chance when we went to South Africa the last time (they beat the Lions in Johannesburg in the Challenge Cup).

“There is a lot of talent stacked in a lot of different sides, but the effort of this team, its fighting spirit and its cohesiveness is very strong and that can get you a long way.

“We are competitive and the players are enjoying themselves.”

Hooker Sam Parry, who made his 150th appearance for the region on the weekend, added: “We are a real tight group and the boys care about each other. You talk about effort, but that’s just a given now for this team. The effort is always there. We don’t give in and we keep working for each other.”

Parry marked his landmark outing with a touchdown, while Player of the Match Morgan Morris also crossed from No 8 amid a 5-3 try count in a helter-skelter game which featured a host of turnovers.

Putting the win in context, Booth said: “You saw what a good side the Lions are from what they did to Connacht last week.

“They are a difficult outfit because they play. They can create you problems. Having the discipline that we showed to understand how to win the contest is one of the most pleasing things and obviously then the effort and application to do that.

“I am delighted for the players, but we can be much better again and that’s the exciting part.”

There was another Welsh win over the weekend, with Dragons beating Zebre Parma 20-13 at Rodney Parade to move off the bottom of the table.

Commenting on a first victory since New Year’s Day, skipper Steff Hughes said: “It’s been a tough block for us, but you learn a lot about people around you in these situations.

“It’s good for us to get this result. There’s a lot of hard work gone in and we are just pleased to get the win.

“Hopefully it will give us confidence for our run-in. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to be positive and get some momentum to finish the season.”

Head coach Dai Flanagan added: “We looked like a team desperate to win.

“We looked edgy at times in attack and gave away some easy penalties, but there’s a massive want to get better and our defence was superb.

“That’s four wins from our last six games at home and we’ve got a couple more to come to keep climbing the league.”

Cardiff lost 20-15 away to Munster with two touchdowns apiece in a compelling and gripping affair in front of 15,423 fully engaged fans at Thomond Park.

Cardiff produced a huge effort, competing hard at the breakdown and bringing a real defensive line speed, while they snapped up a couple of scoring chances.

When flanker Thomas Young rounded off a lineout drive on the hour to add to centre Ben Thomas’ long-range interception, the visitors were leading 12-10.

They also had a man advantage with prop John Ryan in the sin bin following a tipping clear-out on Liam Belcher.

As such, they would have been dreaming of a first ever win in Limerick.

But the 14-men of Munster redoubled their efforts and went back in front when Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley danced through to the line.

Back came Cardiff again and it looked as though the lead was going to change hands once more ten minutes from time as they got closer and closer to the whitewash through 25 phases, only for prop Will Davies-King to lose the ball in going for the touchdown.

With Player of the Match Crowley slotting a penalty, it seemed as though the visitors were going to miss out on even a losing bonus point, but Jacob Beetham landed a long range kick just seconds after coming on as a sub to secure a deserved 10th bonus of the season.

Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt said: “It’s disappointing because we want to win games and I know there will be a little bit of frustration, but what an effort from a young group.

“The pride they are showing in playing for Cardiff and how they are sticking in games has been magnificent. What you can’t coach is the spirit we are showing.

“We are in a decent place. We are not far away from being a pretty good team.”

The Scarlets, however, had a weekend they will quickly want to forget with coach Dwayne Peel admitting their 45-3 thrashing at home Glasgow exposed major weaknesses.

The Scarlets conceded seven tries in a record home league defeats and Peel said: “It was a sobering night.

“We got what we deserved. There were times when we were soft with accuracy on both sides of the ball and gave Glasgow easy-ins.

“We knew their strengths but through a lack of discipline or errors we gave a really good side far too many opportunities.

“At half-time we thought we could correct those errors but we got off to a tough start and the game went away from us.”

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