Heineken Cup - Game of the Week
Holley confident Ospreys can still progress
January 16, 2010
The Ospreys' defence gang up on Clermont's Elvis Vermeulen © Getty Images
Dan Biggar James Hook Brock James Ryan Jones Julien Malzieu Napolioni Nalaga Morgan Parra Aurelien Rougerie
Sean Holley insists the Ospreys' hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup are still alive despite a setback at Clermont Auvergne.
Wing Tommy Bowe handed the visitors the perfect start after seven minutes but the Welsh region lost their way as the power of Clermont took command in an intense battle. Australian fly-half Brock James scored 17 points, including three penalties, a deft drop goal and a conversion. Then wings Julien Malzieu and Napolioni Nalaga grabbed second-half tries to rub salt into their wounds at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Ospreys head coach Sean Holley said, "Full credit goes to Clermont as we were beaten by the better side. In fact, they were amazing - especially Brock James. You have to admire them but we came here with a lot of hope and ambition and we saw that in the early exchanges.
"But the penalty count was 14-2 against us and they came in the scrum. That clearly had an effect in the end. They imposed a lot of pressure on us and, although we defended bravely, the momentum told in the end. It is an extremely disappointing dressing room and we're disappointed for the fans but Clermont were worthy winners."
The poor performance now leaves the Ospreys facing a must win Pool Three clash against Leicester at the Liberty Stadium next Saturday to stand any chance of reaching the last eight.
Holley added, "I'd imagine it would be difficult to pick ourselves up next week if it was a run-of-the-mill match and we weren't playing for anything. But it's Leicester, we're at home and it's a winner-takes-all clash. It's a rematch from last year. We are still in a position to qualify and that will sharpen our focus. We can't worry about who we could face in the quarter-finals. We just have to get there."
Clermont, the leaders in the Top 14, hold a slender one-point advantage over Leicester and the Ospreys. And the French giants travel to northern Italy in the final round to face Viadana, who are winless in the competition.
Clermont head coach Vern Cotter said, "The Ospreys came at us early on and found some gaps in our defence. But we tightened up and took control. It was a hard battle on a heavy pitch so it's a good win. We are in good shape to quality from such a tough group."
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