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Steve Tandy: This is a crucial run of games for Ospreys

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

Rhys Webb will captain the side from scrum-half

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STEVE Tandy returns to Bridgend tomorrow, hoping to down the team he describes as the best in England.

Tandy, who was head coach with Bridgend before stepping into the same role at the Ospreys, goes back to the Brewery Field for the LV= Cup clash with Harlequins (5pm).

The Ospreys are big outsiders to reach the knockout stages following their defeat against the Dragons last weekend.

But they will be determined to put in a good performance on their first visit to the ground this term.

Tandy said: "It is a big day and big occasion for both the region and for Bridgend in particular, with the best team in England coming.

"I've got great memories from my time as head coach at Bridgend Ravens so I'm delighted to be taking an Ospreys team there, and with seven Bridgend boys in the starting line-up I'd expect to see the Bridgend public turning out to get behind their region.

"I know the boys can't wait to play there again.

"Bridgend is crucial to us. We can't underestimate the importance of the district to Ospreys rugby on or off the field."

The Ospreys have again named a young squad, with many of their players on international duty.

Rhys Webb captains the side from scrum-half, while experience in the pack is provided by Jonathan Thomas and prop Campbell Johnstone.

There are also a number of old heads on the bench in the shape of Duncan Jones, George Stowers, Ian Gough and Kahn Fotuali'i.

"This is the start of the crucial period for us," added Tandy.

"We are minus nine players away with the senior Wales squad, seven with the under-20s, and there are a number of key players still on the injury list.

"So it is this group of players we will be looking to build some momentum over the coming weeks, moving into a tough month of Pro12 rugby where we have three games in Ireland in the space of four weeks.

"Harlequins will provide a really difficult test for us. They aren't top of the Premiership, current champions and top seeds in Europe for nothing.

"They have a quality squad and come to Bridgend looking for a result that could see them through to the top four, so it's going to be a good game.

"It's a challenge but our preparation for the game has been good, the players know what is expected of them and that they need to be at their best if we are going to get the level of performance needed to get anything out of this match."

Ospreys: J. Murphy; T. Grabham, J. Spratt, B. John, D. Howells; M. Morgan, R. Webb (capt); M. Thomas, S. Baldwin, C. Johnstone, L. Peers, S. Williams, J. Thomas, M. Allen, A. Ellis. Reps: M. Dwyer, D. Jones, D. Arhip, I. Gough, G. Stowers, D. Baker, T. Habberfield, K. Fotuali'i.

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