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PREVIEW: Ospreys aim to end six-year wait in Europe

Thursday 21st January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Dans une poule où les quatre candidats sont encore en lice

Dans une poule où les quatre candidats sont encore en lice

Ospreys must end Exeter Chiefs unbeaten run at Sandy Park if they are reach the knock-out stages of Europe for the first time in six years.

The Welsh region have not played in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup since the last of three successive appearances in 2010.

But they top Pool 2 and will clinch their place in the last eight if they can become the first team to beat the Chiefs on home soil this season.

Coach Gruff Rhys said: “This is a huge opportunity for us. We were written off before the tournament because of the difference in resources in this pool. But now that we have put ourselves in this position, we have to take it.

“We’ve been very impressed with Exeter and especially their home record this season after beating some big teams.

“You have to front up down there in Exeter but that is something that we did in the meeting at the Liberty Stadium back in November. But we also have to take our chances which we didn’t do against Clermont last week. We created have chances but didn’t finish. Despite the significance of this game, we have to remain cool, calm and ruthless.”

Exeter can also top the pool with a bonus-point win if Ospreys fail to claim a point and Bordeaux defeat Clermont-Auvergne.

But head coach Rob Baxter has urged his player to focus on securing their proud record at their Sandy Park fortress.

He said: “Regardless of what the scenario over who can qualify or not is, it is a home game in the Champions Cup against a relatively local team.

“It is an English-Welsh game, there should be plenty of emotion there and that is what I am expecting. I am expecting us to play at our full potential.”

Tournament top-scorer Dan Biggar kicked 20 points and Josh Matavesi crossed as the Ospreys came from behind to beat Exeter 25-13 at the Liberty Stadium in Round 1.

Baxter added: “The players feel slightly frustrated at not showing the best of themselves. The guys feel they want to get back out on the pitch and play better than when we last played them. That will be a part of our focus this week.”
Match Facts

  • Exeter have won four of their five matches against Welsh opposition in the Champions Cup, though their last such fixture was a 25-13 loss to Ospreys.
  • A win for Exeter would see them undefeated at home in the pool stages for the first time in the Champions Cup after managing it twice in Challenge Cup.
  • Ospreys haven’t won an away fixture in the Champions Cup since beating Viadana 62-7 in December 2009.
  • Ospreys are winless in their last nine away matches against English opposition (D1, L8), dating back to January 2007.
  • No side has spent longer in possession in the tournament this season than Exeter Chiefs who have averaged 19 minutes and 55 seconds on the ball per game.
  • Exeter have made more carries than any other side in the Champions Cup this season, averaging 130 per game.
  • Exeter have used 40 players in this season’s Champions Cup, the joint most this season (level with Bordeaux-Bégles & Toulouse).
  • Only Glasgow’s Taqele Naiyaravoro has a higher average gain per carry than Exeter’s Olly Woodburn (11.3m) in the Champions Cup this season (minimum 20 carries).
  • Ospreys’ Lloyd Ashley has made 69/73 tackles in the competition this season, more than any other player after the first five rounds.
  • Dan Biggar is the top point scorer in the competition this season, having scored 66 points in his five appearances.

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REPORT: Exeter progress on remarkable afternoon

Sunday 24th January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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En tête avant la dernière journée

En tête avant la dernière journée

Exeter Chiefs produced a stunning 33-17 bonus-point win over the Ospreys to dash the Welsh side’s European Rugby Champions Cup aspirations and advance to the quarter-finals as Pool 2 winners on a remarkable afternoon.

The Welsh region knew a win at the home of the Chiefs would be enough to secure a place in the last-eight for the first time since 2010, but they were undone as Thomas Waldrom and James Short scored two tries apiece to add to Kai Hortsmann’s early effort.

Gareth Steenson added six points while the Ospreys had a penalty try and a Hanno Dirksen effort to their name, plus seven points from Dan Biggar, but it was not enough as Exeter topped Pool 2 to advance. Exeter came storming out of the blocks and had a try inside three minutes as Horstmann was driven over at the heart of a powerful driving maul, with Steenson converting.

The Ospreys hit back almost immediately. A clever blindside move took them up to the line and Dirksen ran a straight line off Brendan Leonard to dot down.

Back came Exeter, ignoring penalty kicks at goal as they knew only a bonus-point win would give them any chance of a last-eight place.

The aggressive approach paid off as the outstanding Waldrom powered over from close range to restore their lead, with Steenson again converting.

There was no further score before the break but there was huge drama still to come, with Biggar striking the first blow of the second half with a penalty. But when the visitors had hooker Scott Baldwin sin-binned for a late tackle on Waldrom the tide turned decisively in favour of the home side.

The Ospreys took off full-back Dan Evans to accommodate a front-row replacement for Baldwin and were punished as Steenson chipped into space behind the front line defence and Short brilliantly seized the ball and beat Sam Davies to score.

Biggar missed a long-range penalty and when Short again finished superbly down the left flank it was the hosts who were suddenly dreaming of the knock-out stage with Clermont Auvergne and Bordeaux-Begles playing out a thriller in France.

A penalty try gave the Ospreys hope of gaining what would have proved to be a crucial bonus point, but Waldrom battered his way over and Will Hooley added the extras as the Chiefs advanced.

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