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Page last updated at 08:20 GMT, Sunday, 13 April 2008 09:20 UK

Ospreys can still fly higher

Ospreys captain

By Phil Harlow
BBC Sport at Twickenham

You don't need to have a particularly long memory to recall a time when a Welsh side beating an English side in a big game would be followed by weeks of celebration and back-slapping.

The "as long as we beat the English" mentality has hampered Welsh rugby over the years, but we're in different times, different territory now.

The Ospreys comprehensively outplayed Leicester, the reigning English champions, in the EDF Energy Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday in a match that was of huge significance to both teams.

But amid all the joy at the Ospreys becoming the first Welsh side to win the tournament, the post-match talk was of what was to come from this richly talented team.

"Welsh club rugby hasn't achieved much and we want to change that," said Ospreys coach Lyn Jones.

This was certainly a breakthrough result for us

Ospreys coach Lyn Jones

"We want to be better than we are now."

The Ospreys have a squad to rate with any in Europe, with the likes of Shane Williams, James Hook, Lee Byrne, Marty Holah and inspirational captain Ryan Jones all in their ranks.

And with two Magners League titles - in 2005 and 2007 - and an EDF Energy Cup to their name, the Ospreys' sights are now turning to bigger and better things.

"This win was just another incremental step in our development towards achieving success in the Heineken Cup," said lock Alun Wyn Jones, one of the Ospreys' try-scorers at Twickenham.

The Heineken Cup, the holy grail for all top sides in Europe, is something of a sore point for the Ospreys at the moment after their feeble display in their quarter-final defeat by Saracens last week.

But the feel-good factor in Welsh rugby at the moment, buoyed of course by the national team's Grand Slam, is so strong that positives can be found in the most unlikely of places.

"There's bound to be dips over the course of a season - you can't sustain the levels these guys have been at all the time," said coach Jones.

"We had to go through the loss to Saracens to understand what the things we talk about actually mean.

"We took a kick in the pants last week and we came back to this match knowing exactly what we had to do."

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Hook was one of the main culprits in his side's defeat by Saracens, but the fly-half produced a masterclass at Twickenham.

"People forget James is still 22 and growing as a player," said coach Jones.

"(Prop) Adam Jones is the oldest player in the front five at 27. The team is growing and we've got more bad experiences to go through before we really get there.

"This was certainly a breakthrough result for us but we're realistic about what we can achieve - it's one step at a time and there's no short cut to it.

"We all understand the journey we're on - where we are, where we're trying to get to and how difficult it's going to be to get there."


see also
Ospreys 23-6 Leicester
12 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
EDF Energy Cup final as it happened
12 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
EDF Cup final photos
12 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 41-35 Ospreys
15 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union


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