London Irish 24-12 Ospreys, Heineken Cup, January 16
Booth thrilled to end losing run
ESPNscrum Staff
January 16, 2011
London Irish's Topsy Ojo streaks away to score his side's second try, London Irish v Ospreys, Heineken Cup, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, January 16, 2011
Topsy Ojo bagged London Irish's second try against the Ospreys © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Heineken Cup
Grounds: Madejski Stadium

Toby Booth paid tribute to the courage and determination of his players after watching them end a wretched run of ten defeats in all competitions with a 24-12 Heineken Cup win over the Ospreys.

The London Irish rugby director admitted there had been pain and some quiet tears during the worst run in four years, and insisted: "The monkey is off our backs."

Booth added: "What delighted me was the effort, but then I was proud of the effort in the Saracens game and the Quins game. This was a win, but then it was achieved in the Heineken Cup.

"We came under the cosh from the very kick-off, and the graft of the tight five was absolutely outstanding. I am so pleased for the players. It was crucial for us to get the result and we've got it. We are now one from one.

"You have to remember why you play the game. We quoted Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who says nothing beats winning, and that is so true. The monkey is off our backs and we go to Munster to face a team with such a huge tradition, and with a desire to make amends for their defeat in France.

"When you care about what you do, you really hurt when you lose. People outside the club would not know how the guys react when you get into a poor run. We were 12 points ahead against Bath only to have the rug pulled from under us with a last minute penalty. It was desperate, yet I was proud of our effort.

"There does come a time when nerves kick in as a run like this grows. Dan Bowden was sitting next to me for the last few minutes after giving a fine display, and he said he'd not felt as nervous watching his team play in his life.

"This is a guy who played Super 15 for Canterbury in New Zealand. That summed it up for me." Ospreys head coach Sean Holley admitted his side had missed a huge opportunity.

He said: "Failing to get over the line in the first minute set the trend, and we did that too often. We came up against a pretty desperate Irish defence, a team desperate to win, a team needing a win badly, and we dropped too many balls, made too many mistakes.

"Against guys such as their backs, you dare not miss touch because they will punish you. We had possession, we had periods when we should have made scores. This has been a brutal pool, and it's actually sad when three very good sides go out of the competition because of the way we have all damaged each other.

"But we have a very diligent coaching team, we have young talent coming through, and I am convinced that the future is bright.

"We have a strong spine in our side, and it's a fact that this is a very hard competition to win. We'll bounce back as best we can, but the saddest aspect of this is that we probably won't get a Welsh team in the quarter-finals.

"This is a huge opportunity lost, but you have to cope with that in a professional sport. Ours is a very quiet dressing room whereas Toby's come in grinning like a Cheshire Cat because he's seen the end of a ten-game losing run, and so he should be.

"But the Ospreys is a seven-year-old project in our corner of Wales. We are developing players for our national team and we are working hard behind the scenes."

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