Alun Wyn Jones looking for greater control
Three games down, and the story so far is nowhere near a fairy tale! Off the back of last season, this season promised to offer a lot more.
Running concurrently with the start of the season, we saw one of the greatest ever British sporting events close and the start of the inspirational Paralympics. This event promised to be one of the greatest Paralympics in history, and it did not fail. Watching the wheelchair rugby was an obvious favourite, with the hits and commitment shown by the athletes taking part. I particularly found the stories of some of the servicemen who had been injured in duty and turned to sport, to be some of the most inspirational journeys via the ‘Frontline to Startline’ initiative throughout the whole sporting summer.
We stand with three games played and three losses. The first was a difficult outing in Treviso away, where we were undone in the first half by lack of discipline and the inability to take opportunities in the second half, and still seeing this when we were down to 14 men. Even though there was no merit in the result, the latter half of the performance went someway to give us solace moving forward.
Our second game proved just a tough an ask facing Ulster (last year’s Heineken Cup semi-finalists) at home in the Liberty Stadium. We had a 10 point lead going in to the second half, until a mix of costly and unforced errors combined with an Ulster bench (which included the likes of Stephen Ferris) making a huge impact and helping Ulster close the gap to eventually win 16-13. This year is not only significant for the Ospreys and our defence of the Rabo Direct but it sees Adam Jones (arguably the best tight-head in World rugby) completing his testimonial year with the Ospreys. I was fortunate enough to play in his golf day at the Grove Golf Course, Porthcawl where the sun shone, a rarity in these parts at the moment. Having only taken up the game recently, my golf skills are something to be desired and at the end of that day my score card were marked with the words ‘to be continued’.
Following an attempted relaxing day on the golf course, we welcomed Glasgow Warriors, a team we didn’t manage to beat on either occasion we faced them last season. Again at home, we realised what we had to do after our first two losses. Being on the bench is not a position I like to be in, especially when we go in at half time being 18-0 down. We, again similar to the Treviso game, had a revival in the second half, but the gap grew too great, even with an Ian Evans try and a Dan Biggar penalty. This provided us with our third loss in as many games.
We have our first big carrot of the season this weekend facing the Scarlets in what is our local derby, and a game of top versus bottom in the Rabo Direct table. For many occasions in the past we have been the favourites, but this year with a stuttering start and the form that the Scarlets have displayed, we are the underdogs. The season has provided us with more than a difficult start, but not one that we can’t turn around, especially when a lot of our errors are in our control. There’s no crisis or panic but more a case of frustration in knowing how good we can be.
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