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Steve Tandy under no illusions ahead of Ospreys' trip to Exeter

Published 23/01/2016

Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy is prepared for a tough European Champions Cup challenge against Exeter
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy is prepared for a tough European Champions Cup challenge against Exeter

Welsh challengers the Ospreys will need to end one of English rugby's most imposing home records in their quest for a European Champions Cup quarter-final place on Sunday.

An Ospreys victory against Exeter at Sandy Park would guarantee they win Pool Two and secure last-eight status alongside the likes of Saracens, Leicester and Racing 92.

The Ospreys have not been European quarter-finalists since 2010, but four points picked up on the road against French opposition Clermont Auvergne and Bordeaux-Begles - plus three home wins - mean that prize is now tantalisingly close.

Exeter, though, are unbeaten on home soil since January 3 last year when Gloucester beat them in the Aviva Premiership, and Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy appreciates how big a task lies ahead.

"Exeter are a great club who have established themselves at the top of the English game, and they have an outstanding record at home," Tandy said.

"They haven't lost there (Sandy Park) in over a year, and that is the size of the challenge ahead of us this weekend.

"What we've got to do is ensure that we are 100 per cent focused on the task. We can't allow ourselves to get distracted by the opponents or what is at stake.

"We've got to be on top of our own game, be accurate, diligent and clinical in what we do, and we've got to build a performance that will allow us to get the outcome we want from the game.

"We have worked extremely hard to put ourselves into the position we are in going into the final round of pool fixtures, knowing that we have our fate in our own hands.

"We realise there are not many people who would have backed us to get to this point at the start of the season, and we have to be pleased that we've done enough to get to this point.

"Nobody is getting carried away, though. We are all well aware that possibly the toughest part of the job is still ahead of us on Sunday."

Exeter, who continue to be without a number of injured players, still have a chance of progressing themselves, but it only becomes a realistic prospect if they claim a comprehensive bonus point win and Bordeaux post an unlikely away victory against Clermont on Sunday.

"Regardless of what the scenario is over who can qualify or not, it is a home game in the Champions Cup against a relatively local team," Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter said.

"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."

Leicester, meanwhile, confirmed a quarter-final place with last weekend's bonus point success against Italian strugglers Treviso, and they conclude their Pool Four schedule on Sunday by facing Stade Francais in Paris.

Stade know that a bonus point victory is the likely requirement in pursuit of a best runners-up route into the knockout phase, but Leicester are determined to preserve a 100 per cent European record this season.

"We did the job that had to be done against Treviso last week, and we know we've qualified with a home quarter-final," said Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill, who hands another start to England centre Manu Tuilagi.

"But we still have a lot to play for in this competition.

"Stade's set-piece was as strong as ever against Munster last week, and we will have to match them physically and mentally in front of their own crowd.

"But you also have to be bold enough to play your own game and not be too afraid to play. Against good sides, you will only a get a few chances, and you have to be able to take them."

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