STEVE Tandy has urged RaboDirect Pro12 chiefs to rethink their scheduling after the attendance for the Ospreys' derby win over the Blues was hit by Wales's autumn inter- nationals.
A crowd of 8,169 watched the Ospreys cruise to a 33-12 victory at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night, less than 24 hours before Wales hosted Australia at the Millennium Stadium.
This was the Ospreys' first home derby of the season, and a fixture against a fellow Welsh region would usually command a bumper turn-out from their supporters.
The reigning Pro12 champions have already sold more than 12,000 tickets for the Boxing Day visit of the Scarlets but, with Wales's match against the Wallabies overshadowing Friday's encounter, the Ospreys' triumph felt strangely subdued.
"I think the scheduling is something that has to be looked at," said head coach Tandy.
"These guys (the players) thrive on big crowds and it's something we're looking for from a business end.
"Considering we were playing on the Friday night before an autumn international, the crowd were outstanding and the boys really responded to that.
"It's not perfect. I can't control that and the only thing I can do is prepare the team the best I can.
"For these derbies, you want huge crowds. We know the Scarlets ticket sales are going well.
"But that's not taking away from the volume and the noise of the fans who were here."
Regardless of the reduced attendance, the Ospreys strode to a sixth win from seven league matches in convincing style.
There were tries for James King, Richard Fussell and Morgan Allen, as well as 18 points for Matthew Morgan, though a late push for a bonus point proved fruitless.
Despite starting the match just one place below the Ospreys in the Pro12 table, the Blues never looked like registering a second win at the Liberty.
Their resistance posed no problems for the Ospreys and, having lost to Edinburgh last weekend, Tandy was delighted with his side's response. "I'm really pleased," he said. "The effort in this group is unbelievable — they never know when they're beaten.
"Even though it was disappointing not to get anything in Edinburgh last weekend, you never question the effort and talent of this group.
"Our injuries and international call-ups are well documented, yet we've put out a team which has scored three tries. It was disappointing not to get four but I think that's testament to the group, who are a pleasure to coach.
"We got the four points and I'm really pleased for the players and the crowd," he added.
The Ospreys now turn their attention to the Heineken Cup, where their hopes of staying in the competition rest on the forthcoming double-header against four-time European champions Toulouse.
With a lengthy injury list which includes Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Joe Rees, Tom Smith, Jonathan Thomas and Hanno Dirksen, travelling to France on Saturday will be a daunting task for Tandy's wounded troops.
"The odds are truly stacked against us," Tandy added. "But all we can do is prepare the best we can and give it a good crack. Win or lose, there's never a question of endeavour or team spirit, and we will need it."