Gruff Rees hails gutsy performance as Ospreys draw with Racing Metro
Backs coach hails young side as they come back from 16-3 down to draw 19-19 with French big spenders
Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees praised his players as they came from behind to draw 19-19 with Racing Metro at the Liberty Stadium.
The Welsh region trailed 16-6 at the break and saw man of the match Dan Biggar nonchalantly miss an easy penalty-goal attempt before fighting back with style in the second half, securing the draw with a late converted try from Fijian international Josh Matavesi.
“To come back from 16-3, and we were certainly under the pump physically and there was a bit of pressure where we invited them on to us, we managed to turn some aspects of that around, and we showed incredible heart and managed to move them around a little bit,” Rees said.
“We had sparks at certain points. Asked questions of them, but to get a draw at least keeps us in the mix in terms of being able to go [to Le Mans] and play for something head-to-head with Racing next week.
“I’ve got to say incredibly gutsy from the boys we have put out there as well.
“There’s three players making their European debut for the Ospreys, the average age is 24, and we’re the youngest side in Europe.”
Biggar’s missed penalty could have sealed a famous win against the cash-rich Top 14 club ahead of the reverse fixture which the Parisians have opted to move to the 25,000-capacity MMArena inside the famous race circuit, 122 miles south west of their Stade Yves-du-Manoir home.
But the Wales international finished the afternoon with 14 points off the kicking tee, including the conversion for Matavesi’s try to level the score.
I’ve got to say incredibly gutsy from the boys we have put out there as well. There’s three players making their European debut for the Ospreys, the average age is 24, and we’re the youngest side in Europe.
The Ospreys’ Wales quartet of Biggar, scrum-half Rhys Webb, captain Alun Wyn Jones and hooker Scott Baldwin all had meaningful impacts on the game and showed few signs of coming through a mentally and physically exhausting month of Test rugby.
Rees also admitted he expects it to be another tough encounter with the Ospreys expected to have another disrupted week preparing for round four of the European Champions Cup.
“It’ll be a huge ask,” he added. “Historically, we know that things are against us there, and we’ve spoken already about having to adapt our week again.
“We’d have liked more contact time for the fact that Alun Wyn is saying we haven’t been able to do as much, but that’d probably be the same again because, physically, this is such a tough block ahead of us, also based on what we’ve just gone through as well.
“We’re caught between a rock and a hard place, but I think it’s more about being physically right for the challenge ahead.
“We won’t be shy about what we’re going to do. We’re certainly positive with the ball in hand.
“If we all understand what we’re trying to do and where we’re going to put Racing, and trying to shut them down, not getting within 30 metres of our line, then suddenly they can get a frustrated side, playing in a different arena, and I think we can really have a go at them.”