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Scott Baldwin hoping to mark 100th Ospreys appearance with Clermont success

Wales hooker Scott Baldwin is hoping to mark his 100th appearance for the Ospreys by helping them take a major step towards the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.

The 27-year-old will reach his milestone in Friday night's crunch pool two clash with leaders Clermont Auvergne at the Liberty Stadium.

"It's something that I could never imagine I would achieve" said Baldwin.

"As a youngster signing my first contract, if I'm honest, I would have been proud and happy to get to 10 appearances for the Ospreys, particularly with games being few and far between those first few years.

"But, like anything, once you get a taste you want more I suppose, and I'm proud to be reaching 100 after working hard to make the most of the opportunity the Ospreys have given me.

"It's a nice personal landmark to reach but it won't mean anything if we don't get the performance and outcome we want on the night, that's the most important thing."

The Ospreys' fate is in their own hands. They are just two points behind the French side and two ahead of Exeter, who visit Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday before hosting the Welsh region in their final pool game next weekend.

"Everybody knows how important this game is, particularly with the pool being so wide open," captain Alun Wyn Jones said.

"While we target a win in every game, you have to be pragmatic about it and to get the two points in both matches out in France means we are going into the last two rounds still in contention. Let's be honest about it, that's probably beyond the expectations of most people outside of the camp when we started.

"We've got an opportunity on Friday now to really push ourselves forward, maybe take control at the top of the group, with one more, very difficult, away trip to come the following week.

"Our sole focus this week is Clermont and doing what we've got to do to ensure the level of performance needed to make an impact against quality opposition who put themselves in a good position with their performance and result against Bordeaux last week."

Ospreys, who have signed South Africa centre JJ Engelbrecht to the end of the season subject to a work permit, will be looking to bounce back from their Pro 12 defeat by Leinster, which ended a five-game winning run in the domestic league.

"We put in some good performances in the last round of European fixtures but everybody realises that we've got to lift ourselves several notches above the Leinster game last week," Jones added.

"It's a long time since we've reached this stage of European competition and still had a realistic opportunity to go through from the pool.

"The manner of how we've gone about our business in Europe this season, some of the performances we've put in, is a huge positive, and we've got to do the same again this week."

Ospreys flanker Sam Underhill will make his European Cup debut and Ma'afu Fia and Owen Watkin will do likewise if they come off the bench against a Clement Auvergne side bolstered by the presence of Wales centre Jonathan Davies.


From Belfast Telegraph