Allan Clarke: Ospreys coach praises 'fantastic' win over Connacht

By Nick WebbBBC Wales Sport
Ospreys wing Keelan Giles scored two tries to show he is getting back to his best after long-term injury
Ospreys wing Keelan Giles scored two tries to show he is getting back to his best after long-term injury

Ospreys coach Allen Clarke praised his depleted squad for a "fantastic" result in beating Connacht 22-17 with the last move of their Pro14 game in Bridgend.

They were without eight players on Wales duty, while Connacht fielded their four Ireland squad players.

"We're nine (wins) in a row at home, you could see the desperation about us," said Clarke.

"We fronted up, there was a physicality and energy about us driven by the senior players."

The Ospreys led 17-3 going into the final quarter, only for Connacht to hit back to level.

But Dan Evans scrambled over from a Cory Allen break in the 80th minute, the try being initially disallowed for a knock-on and then awarded after video checks.

"Late drama, but on the 80 minutes-plus performance, I thought we showed tremendous character considering what we don't have, with 20 players missing (through international calls and injuries)," Clarke told BBC Sport Wales.

"Our last D (defence) set was magnificent, then to call the play we called, the coaches didn't necessarily think it was the correct play but all credit to the boys.

"The drama of the finish just adds to the magic of tonight, to get five points is fantastic."

Hanno Dirksen of Ospreys runs out at the Brewery Field, Bridgend
Bridgend's Brewery Field last hosted a regional league game 14 years ago

A crowd of 5,122 for the first Ospreys Pro14 game in Bridgend made for a noisy atmosphere, 14 years after the last league fixture there for the disbanded Celtic Warriors.

Ospreys have opted to switch Anglo-Welsh Cup games in the past, but a fixture clash with Swansea City meant the Liberty Stadium was not available.

"It was really good, but we didn't make a big thing of it. Maybe some people saw it as an away game but we saw it as an opportunity to branch out within our region, playing at home again," said Clarke.

He also praised the efforts of Wales flanker Dan Lydiate, trying to prove his fitness ahead of the autumn series after four weeks out with a shoulder injury.

"It's testament to the man that he was desperate to come back, he drove that (selection) but he needed the rugby and I thought he was magnificent," Clarke said.

Two early tries from 20-year-old wing Keelan Giles, who spent nearly a year out through injury after working his way into the Wales squad, underpinned Ospreys.

"It's brilliant, the last thing I said to him before we left the changing-room was 'it's about time you scored a try', so maybe I should say that to everybody," joked Clarke, whose second-placed side now host Conference A leaders Glasgow back at the Liberty Stadium on Friday, 2 November.

"We've got one more game in this block before the boys can get a rest, it's important we prepare well for the form team in the league.

"We rock up on Monday and try to raise the bar."

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