Mefin Davies gives Ospreys inside track on Leicester ahead of Heineken Cup clash
MEFIN Davies has given the Ospreys the inside track on his old club Leicester ahead of Sunday’s blockbusting Heineken Cup encounter in Swansea, saying they remain the best side in the Aviva Premiership.
“It’s the best side in Wales against the best in England,” said Davies, who spent three seasons at Welford Road before returning to Wales in 2010.
“It is going to be a massive game.”
The Ospreys have to win to keep alive their European hopes for the season, while the Tigers are targeting at least a losing bonus point to advance their chances of finishing top of Pool 2.
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The stage is set for an intense forward struggle, with Leicester set to arrive in Swansea with the uncompromising forward game that has long been their hallmark.
They have lost their last three away games against the Ospreys, two in Europe and one in the LV= Cup, but Davies warns that they will look to be ruthless as they chase a Heineken Cup quarter-final place.
“Leicester have a mentality that is based on forward dominance,” said the former Wales hooker.
“It is no secret what they will bring.
“They will be ruthless, they will have a big work ethic and they will look to squeeze the Ospreys up front, just as they squeezed Worcester with two late penalty tries last Friday night.
“It has always been their game.
“They are physical and strong across the board: no small wings or small centres. They have direct runners in midfield, a smart ten, a sharp nine and forwards who will truck it up all day long.
“The other thing is they are conditioned to play in the Aviva Premiership, which is hugely attritional.
“I enjoyed playing in it and I like the Pro12 league, too. They are just different competitions.”
Much of the focus this weekend will be on the scrum, an area of the game where both sides excel. The Ospreys were heavily penalised there in the game at Welford Road in October, but they left the East Midlands believing Ryan Bevington had been unfairly yellow-carded, and subsequent examination of the match tapes did little to change their minds.
“It is going to be hugely important,” said Davies.
“You are going to have two players who could be Lions tight-heads next summer, Adam Jones and Dan Cole, looking to show up well on the big stage.
“How good is Dan Cole? Very good. He has had Julian White and Martin Castrogiovanni in front of him, yet he has come through into the first team.
“You don’t climb over players like that without having something about you.
“But Adam has always been a superb tight-head. He’s a great bloke and a great player, someone who has shown time and again he can compete against the very best.
“Leicester also have a good line-out, built around Geoff Parling, who is an intelligent guy who makes good decisions.
“To beat them you have to match their commitment and then come up with a bit more.
“We saw against Toulouse in the last round the Ospreys could stand toe to toe with a top-quality team, and the boys will be up for this one.
“If the crowd get behind them, it will not be easy for Leicester.”