By LI Bohemian
October 17 2016
When hearing of this fixture, I decided it would be a good one to attend, firstly to see if Irish have the depth of squad and if the much changed line up will have the same team ethos, secondly to find out if the “world famous,” (according to my mate) Fagots with mushy peas in gravy are any good.
As I inspect the bowl of nasty looking stuff in front of me, when sat in the Neath undercover market Café, I glance around for camera’s or Ant & Dec to step out. I finally closed my eyes and tucked into, what turns out to be a culinary masterpiece.
I walk to the Gnoll with my mate who lives locally and is an Osprey’s supporter. The ground is a good old-fashioned compact place with small but adequate covered terracing surrounding each side of the pitch. You have to virtually walk through the team dug-outs to get to the clubhouse, which I for some reason found embarrassing. The pitch is in a good condition and nothing like the muddy quagmire I remembered on TV in the 80’s when Paul Thorburn was booming them over from 50mtres out.
I got into the ground about an hour before kick off, the Irish team and coaches were on the pitch going though the various drills and exercises but no sign of any Osprey’s.
With 30 minutes until kick off Ospreys did some phases and drills on the pitch.
The game begins and the play is pretty even, we lose our own line out, but that's the only one for the match. Irish kick the ball in the Ospreys half and put pressure on them in the tackle as they try to run the ball out, forcing them back, this leads to a risky clearance kick, which is charged down by Ross Neal, who then grubbers the ball over the line and scores, 0-5 to Irish.
Osprey’s get back into the game through some line breaks from deep that are defended well. The ball finds its way to Joe Cokanasiga and with little space around him makes a fantastic run, that only with a last ditch tackle from Ospreys, would have been a certain try, hopefully a taste of things to come, as if to show Joe how it should be done, Ben Ransom catches a loose clearance kick on the left, a gap appears after a couple of shimmies, and with a burst of speed, he out paces the defense to score near the posts. Tonks converts 0-12 Irish.
The Ospreys then play some of their best rugby so far, as if Bens score as spurred them, the rain starts to drizzle and the penalties pile up against Irish, after a series of kicks to the corner and line drives the ball gets shipped to Kieran Williams who scores under the posts, which is the least he deserves, Price converts 7-12 to Irish and Half time. The rain starts to pour down at half time, Ospreys are starting to gel as a team and now I’m starting to doubt Irish, like the proverbial Thomas, but yet again I am wrong, Irish dominate most of the third quarter of the match, by playing a tighter game as the wet conditions would dictate. A well-worked try is scored by the new signing Nayalo, who played with much power, aggression and carried well all game. Irish were then awarded their first scrum penalty of the match; they were struggling in this area of play previously. Tonks kicked the penalty 7-20.
Ospreys started to get a bit more ball and via a penalty kicked to the corner and the line-out maul, the familiar name of Mr. Mckusker is announced as the try scorer, making it 14-20 to Irish. Yet again I’m thinking we’re letting the game slip away from us, yet again I’m wrong, I later decide that it is down to the mental scars from last season.
Irish push Ospreys back in their own 22 for the remainder of the game and when Irish are awarded a penalty, I am shouting go for the points, they do, but not the three I wanted, they settle for the five and the try bonus point. Tonks kicks to the corner, Irish drive Palf’s over from the line-out. The final score 14-25.
In the clubhouse bar immediately after the game, Bob Casey tells me that the team today showed great character and played well, I agree with him, not because he’s bigger than me, because he was correct, unlike I’d been all day.
Quote:I later decide that it is down to the mental scars from last season.