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Holley ups ante for Exiles clash

Ospreys coach Sean Holley has billed their Heineken Cup clash against struggling London Irish as a season-defining game.

Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon lead Pool Three, two points ahead of their next opponents Munster. Ospreys stand a further point behind, and Irish - without a win in any competition since October 31 - prop up the group.

Ospreys head to the Madejski Stadium knowing victory - and preferably with a bonus point - would set up next Saturday's home encounter against Toulon as a possible group decider, and Holley said: "This is the first of two season-defining games over the next couple of weekends, and you cannot fail to be excited by the challenge. It's why we are all involved in rugby isn't it?"

He continued: "We are up against a very good London Irish side, a team that will be very dangerous and will provide a real challenge. We are under no illusions as to how dangerous they can be.

"When they played us at the Liberty Stadium earlier in the season, we saw their quality. We had to defend more defensive sets in that game than against any other team this season.

"I suppose the pressure is off them a little in terms of the Heineken Cup, but make no mistake about it, the pressure is on us. We go there knowing that we have to win."

Ospreys will be without injured wing Shane Williams, whose mesmeric display dazzled Irish three months ago, and his fellow Wales international Andrew Bishop (ankle ligaments) is also absent.

Ireland wing Tommy Bowe lines up in midfield alongside James Hook, and there is another start at lock for Ryan Jones, while Lee Byrne begins his comeback from injury on the bench.


From Belfast Telegraph