Ospreys head coach Toby Booth. Pic: Getty Images.

We Were Rabbits In the Headlights, Says Ospreys Chief Toby Booth

By Peter Dawson

Toby Booth has admitted his Ospreys team were “a rabbit in the headlights” at Connacht where they lost their United Rugby Championship opener.

Booth conceded the visitors gave themselves far too much to do to recover, even though they ran in three second half tries to at least secure a bonus-point against last season’s URC semi-finalists in Galway before losing 34-26.

The Ospreys produced a stirring second-half fightback came after they trailed 27-5 at the break, but it still wasn’t enough to stop the home side’s new head coach, Pete Wilkins, marking his competitive debut with a win.

“We were a little bit rabbit in the headlights [in the first half] – a new group, younger players and these are the margins,” said Booth.

“You come to a place like this and if they see you’re a bit passive, they’ll go over the top of you.

“Then we found our feet, a bit of self-belief and thought, ‘we can compete here’. The youngsters came on and brought a lot of energy because they had no respect for anyone which was great and infectious, and we looked a lot better for it.

“We were delighted to get something from what looked like an impossible task and I think we might rue what might have been here.”

Caolin Blade’s first-half hat-trick of tries helped the Irish province into a healthy lead at the interval. Cathal Forde added a second half try to secure the bonus-point,

Keelan Giles, Reuben Morgan-Williams, James Ratti and Rhys Davies crossed for the Ospreys, who fell one point short of securing the second bonus-point.

Former Dragons outside half JJ Hanrahan kicked two penalties in the opening 10 minutes to give the home side the lead. He then converted Blade’s first try, one of four conversions.

Blade notched his hat-trick before the break and Giles replied on the stroke of half-time to finally get the visitors on the scoreboard.

The Ospreys cut the gap to eight points with their spirited second half.


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