Posts Tagged ‘Ospreys Rugby’

Shane Williams is set for his final home match for the Ospreys in the Pro12 play-off clash with Munster on Friday night.

The Lions wing did have a farewell match against the Dragons in April before the Ospreys earned a home tie in the final four.

Williams, 35, who scored a try in his ‘farewell’ against the Dragons, is likely to be preferred over Eli Walker.

“Shane will probably play,” said Ospreys coach Steve Tandy.

“There was a big focus for the Dragons game and that was the only game we could guarantee [for Shane’s farewell].

“Fortunate for us we have got the home semi-final so all likelihood Shane will play. It’s a big occasion.

“Eli has done terrific for us. He’s really developing but we see the big game experience from Shane on Friday night will be a real benefit to us.

“Eli is coming on and I’m sure he will be a great Osprey. Hanno [Dirksen] is getting better and better every game. It was key for us to develop these guys.

“We did feel it is the right time to give Eli a break and bring Shane in.”

There is an outside chance Williams could have another home tie in the final but that depends on the Ospreys beating Munster and Glasgow overcoming Leinster in the other play-off.

Williams enjoyed his ‘final’ match on 20 April by score a last minute bonus point try as the Ospreys overcame the Dragons 31-12 in front of 14,478 at the Liberty.

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Tipuric will make his 50th appearance for the Ospreys and will join Ryan Jones, who is back from paternity leave, and Joe Bearman in the back-row.

The Ospreys have already beaten Munster twice in the Pro12 this season. They overcame them 17-13 at Thomond Park 17-13 in October and again 19-13 at home in December.

Coach Steve Tandy is under no illusions of the task facing the Ospreys against the reigning Pro12 champiopns in Swansea.

“Munster will be coming to the Liberty with a winning mentality as they always do, wherever they play, whoever the opposition and whatever the game,” said Tandy.

“They’re a tough bunch, steely edged, with the knowhow and experience to win tight games and they won’t be contemplating losing. You can guarantee that much.

“The team have worked hard to get us into the position over the last couple of months and they’ve been rewarded with a home semi, but now they have to start all over again.

“It’s a one off game and results in the run-up don’t matter now, it’s all about who comes out on top on Friday night.

“It’s going to be a tough old battle between two teams who know each other very well, two teams who will have to slug it out to get control out there, but it should be a tight, edgy affair as games between the Ospreys and Munster always are.”

Ospreys and Munster have both reached the pay-offs for a third successive year. The Ospreys became champions 2010 and Munster in 2011.

Ospreys have won their last five RaboDirect Pro12 encounters and have been defeated just once at the Liberty in the tournament this season, to fellow play-off hopefuls Glasgow.

Munster are unbeaten in their last three games, and have lost only once on the road in any competition in 2012. That was 21-17 at Aironi.

The Munstermen are unbeaten in their last five encounters with Welsh regions in all competitions.

THE TEAMS

Ospreys: Richard Fussell; Hanno Dirksen, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Shane Williams; Dan Biggar, Kahn Fotuali’i; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Ian Evans, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Joe Bearman.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Ryan Bevington, Aaron Jarvis, James King, Tom Smith, Rhys Webb, Matthew Morgan, Tom Isaacs.

Munster: F Jones; J Murphy, K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; W du Preez, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, D Ryan, T O’Donnell, P O’Mahony (capt).

Replacements: D Fogarty, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, Dave O’Callaghan, P Butler, T O’Leary, R O’Gara, I Dineen.

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)

Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (WRU), Marius Mitrea (FIR)

Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (WRU)

TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (WRU)

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Shane Williams has signed a new two-year contract to stay with the Ospreys.

The 34-year-old Wales winger says the contract with the Welsh region is likely to be his last as a player.

“I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else, this is where I’m happiest, and it’s where I want to finish my career.”

“It’s like a family at the Ospreys and I’m a part of the furniture here really,” said Williams in a statement released by the Ospreys.

“I’ve been here a long time now, since the beginning, and I was at Neath before that along with a lot of players who have gone on to become massive Ospreys legends.”

“I’m delighted to have finalised everything now and I’m excited about what’s in store over the next two seasons,” added Williams, who is set to retire from international rugby at the end of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

“You always get a lot of speculation at this time of year, you expect that and you are prepared for it as players.

“When your contract is up for renewal you find yourself reading a lot of speculation, and things that you are supposed to have said that you haven’t, so as players you don’t take any notice of it. I just want to play rugby.

“It’s been a long time finalising things, but I always wanted to stay at the Ospreys and the Ospreys always wanted me to stay. I’m glad that it’s all sorted now.”

Along with Williams signing a new deal the Ospreys have also given extended deals to players

Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Andrew Bishop, Richard Fussell, Tom Isaacs, Rhys Webb, James King, Kristian Phillips, Scott Baldwin and James Goode.

The region have also recruited Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i from New Zealand Super 15 side Crusaders, and back-rowers Joe Bearman [Dragons] and George Stowers [London Irish].

The teams have announced the players for the Saturday 6.30 kick off at the Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys: Lee Byrne; Nikki Walker, Tommy Bowe, James Hook, Richard Fussell; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Justin Tipuric, Marty Holah, Jonathan Thomas.

Replacements: Huw Bennett, Paul James, Duncan Jones, Ryan Jones, Jerry Collins, Mike Phillips, Andrew Bishop, Sonny Parker.

Munster: F Jones; D Howlett, L Mafi, P Warwick, K Earls, R O’Gara (capt), C Murray; M Horan, D Varley, J Hayes; I Nagle, D O’Callaghan; D Ryan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.

Replacements: M Sherry, W du Preez, T Buckley, T O’Donnell, N Ronan, P Stringer, D Barnes, S Zebo.

Magners have confirmed they will no longer back the Celtic League at the end of the season.

It will bring a 6 year association to an end after sponsoring the competition since 2005

“Magners will not be renewing their sponsorship of the Celtic rugby competition at the end of their current contract,” a spokesman for Magners said.

Italian car makers Fiat are reportedly interested in taking over the sponsorship.

Italian sides Aironi Rugby and Benetton Treviso joined the competition at the start of the 2010-11 campaign to bring to 12 the number of teams involved over 4 nations.

Newport Gwent Dragons did the double over the Ospreys in a thrilling encounter at Rodney parade. The Ospreys were at one point losing 32 points to 11 and although the Ospreys hit back with tries from Ryan Jones, Tommy Bowe and Nikki Walker they didnt do enough to make sure the home fans left unhappy.

With 15 minutes to go the Ospreys were 4 points down and thats how it stayed, with the Dragons impressive defence keeping out the Ospreys despite incessant pressure especially in the final few minutes. The Ospreys were camped in the Dragons 22 but couldnt break through.

Toby Faletau was undoubtedly the star of the show and calls for him to be included in the Welsh World Cup squad for New Zealand later this year seem justified on this seasons displays.

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