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Monday 20 November 2017

Osprey Jones smells blood

Prop says RDS raid a reality for newly united Welshmen

The Ospreys embarked on a three-match Magners League tour of Ireland in April that took them from the northern tip of Ulster to the southern cauldron of Limerick.

For their pains, they stayed in Ireland the entire time and hoovered up 10 points from 15, winning in Ulster and Munster, consoled by a losing bonus point at the RDS.

All in all, the feel-good factor from winning two out of three allied to the bond forged in a foreign land engendered a deeper spirit.

The hairy monster himself, prop Adam Jones, has been around the world and seen it all in rugby, everywhere from Rodney Parade to Rustenburg.

Strange then that the eclipse of Munster at Thomond Park should have made such an impression on the indestructible tight-head.

"It will be exciting to go to Dublin for the Grand Final. We had what felt like a small tour of Ireland recently when we stayed out there in between games against Ulster, Leinster and Munster," he said.

"It was a great trip because it really helped bring everyone together, especially after the defeat to Biarritz in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. We played some pretty good rugby and you can't be a bad side if you beat Munster at Thomond Park."





barriers

This game is all about breaking down psychological barriers. Ireland know all about that as the management and players will soon prepare a plan to beat New Zealand for the first time, in just over two weeks.

Moreover, Leinster coach Michael Cheika has been less than subtle about where and how the Ospreys will seek to exploit the number one seeds.

The front-row dust up will form the foundation for the quick, quality ball that both sets of backlines thrive on. It could be about who gets what they want when they want it.

Obviously, Jones is the primary weapon in the scrum for the Ospreys, Wales and the British & Irish Lions. He has made a career out of splintering the opposition set-piece. He will provide a formidable frame for either Cian Healy or Stan Wright to work against.

"It's really exciting to have the play-offs at the end of the season. Instead of not having anything to play for, we had the chance of two more massive games and a trophy up for grabs.

"We're champing at the bit for the Grand Final. The Heineken Cup quarter-final was a tough game to lose," admitted Jones. I think we've come back strongly since then and showed our mettle. But, all those games we won to get into the play-offs will count for nothing if we don't win the final."

The Thomond Park dam was busted last month. It is time the Ospreys broke new ground in Dublin. History and common sense dictate the difficulty of their assignment.

There has been just one miserable win in the Capital city since the formation of the Ospreys region out of the Neath and Swansea clubs in 2003.

It came in March of 2005 when scrum-half Jason Spice turned Donnybrook deathly silent with a 66th minute try that would divide the sides (16-12) in the season that marked the first of the Ospreys' two championships.

Since then, Leinster have ruled their own roost with five straight wins, the last three at their relatively new home, the RDS.

They have only lost to London Irish there this season.

More worryingly, Leinster concluded their latest 20-16 defeat of the Ospreys without Rob Kearney, Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan, CJ van der Linde and Brian O'Driscoll.

"We gave two soft tries away to Leinster when we lost 20-16 and that was very disappointing from our point of view," said Jones. "They didn't have all their big guns out that night.

"We know the likes of Brian O'Driscoll will be turning out for the final and we all know what a great player he is, but we have got some good players ourselves.



Journey

"We have to be looking to win the Magners League title again. We have things to work on but there is no reason why we can't win it," said Jones.

It could very well be that the journey into Ireland for the three-match stretch against the provinces last month rebuilt the confidence and the unity between their players.

Will it be enough? Stay tuned.

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