Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Jones: Draw is lesser evil

Ospreys captain Alun-Wyn Jones admitted a draw was "the lesser of two evils" after his team fought back to hold European Champions Cup opponents Racing Metro.

Centre Josh Matavesi scored a try five minutes from time to keep alive Ospreys' quarter-final hopes at the Liberty Stadium.

Although French challengers Racing moved level on points with English champions Northampton at the top of Pool Five, they left Swansea disappointed after leading 16-3 at one stage and being ahead throughout until Dan Biggar converted Matavesi's touchdown to secure a 19-19 scoreline.

The Ospreys are three points behind Saints and Racing, but they will effectively be out of contention unless victory can be achieved in next Saturday's quickfire return fixture at the MMArena in Le Mans.

"We needed to win today, if we are honest," Wales lock Jones said.

"A draw is the lesser of two evils. A loss or a draw, then obviously we are going to take the draw.

"If we are honest, we felt we were a bit slow out of the blocks. It was a bit patchy, but we grew into the game.

"It was about taking our opportunities, keeping the pressure on and not forcing things too much.

"There are times in a rugby game when you are better off not having the ball, and I think that was the case to a degree towards the end of the first-half.

"We took our opportunities in the second-half, rather than give away silly penalties. We simplified things."

Lock Francois van der Merwe's 18th-minute try, plus 14 points from the boot of fly-half Johan Goosen, looked to have preserved Racing's 100 per cent pool record, but Matavesi had other ideas.

Biggar kicked four penalties for the Ospreys - he also missed a straightforward chance shortly after half-time - but two points gained might still not be enough following an encounter when Racing's dominant forwards deserved more for their efforts.

Although there are likely to be a number of twists and turns before the quarter-final line-up takes shape next month, Racing's trip to Northampton in late January already looks like being a group decider.

But the Ospreys have at least given themselves a fighting chance, spurred into a second-half revival largely through the combined excellence of Wales internationals Rhys Webb and Justin Tipuric.

"To come back from 16-3 down - and we were certainly under the pump physically - we showed incredible heart," Ospreys assistant coach Gruff Rees said.

"To get a draw at least keeps us in the mix.

"It will be a huge ask next weekend. Historically, we know that things are against us there.

"It is about being physically right for the challenge ahead, and tackling it head-on. If we can be accurate and execute correctly, then we can really have a go.

"It was incredibly gutsy today. There were three players making their European debuts for the Ospreys. It was a fair effort."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph