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Coaches confident ahead of Friday semi

Guinness PRO12 Editor

13 May 2010

Ospreys coach Sean Holley and Glasgow boss Sean Lineen are in confident mood ahead of Friday night’s first-ever Magners League Play-Off game.

The two sides named their matchday squads on Thursday lunchtime and both men appeared full of cautious optimism when it came to their pre-match assessments.

While keen to stress the respect the Ospreys have for the Warriors, Holley is hopeful that home advantage can make a significant difference, while Lineen played down the absence of scrum-half Chris Cusiter by praising the qualities of his replacement Mark McMillan.

"We’ve worked really hard this season to get to this position and to have a home tie. We aren’t taking anything for granted or being complacent – Glasgow are a very dangerous team – but it’s just nice to be at home,” said Holley, whose side hammered the Dragons 42-10 at the Liberty Stadium last weekend.

“We’ve had a lot of away games in the latter part of the season so it’s good to be back at the Liberty Stadium for a big one-off semi-final, where home advantage is crucial.

"We’ve had a good run of results at the Liberty. We have won eight on the bounce and have beaten good teams like Leicester, Munster and Cardiff Blues during that run, but we realise that will count for nothing on Friday night.

“Glasgow have a good squad, there are plenty of internationals in their ranks and they almost edged us out of second place so, while we are glad to be at home, there is still a lot of work to be done. It will be a difficult night and we know that we will have to raise our game another level again from where were at last weekend against the Dragons.

"We need to be more clinical about things – that is obvious to everyone. We’re pleased with the way we are playing, our game plan and system is good, and what has been particularly pleasing has been the number of line breaks we are regularly making.

“But line breaks aren’t enough to win games, as we saw against Biarritz. We’ve been drumming that message home to the boys – it’s about attention to detail. That is the difference between winning and losing when you get to this stage of a competition.

"It’s another memorable occasion in our short history. We’re there at the business stage of the competition again which is where we aim to be in every tournament we enter.

“We want to make it to the first ever play-off final, but a very good Glasgow team stand in our way, looking to make their own history. It isn’t going to be easy, but we know what is required of us and we are all excited about the challenge."

While Holley and Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson named an unchanged side for the semi-final clash, Lineen announced five personnel changes, with the absence of Scotland skipper Cusiter the most high-profile.

But Lineen won’t be using the 2005 Lions tourist’s knee injury as an excuse if the Warriors bow out of the competition tomorrow night.

Instead he has chosen to focus on the strengths of Cusiter’s replacement, a man who is no stranger to Play-Off competition following a two-year stint with London Wasps that included Heineken Cup and Guinness Premiership titles.

"It just shows the strength in depth of the squad,” said Lineen.

“Cus hasn’t managed to pull through but what a replacement we’ve got in Mark McMillan. He’s been a fantastic player for us all season.

"We’ve won down in Wales before so the players are going down there with one thing in mind.

"It’s going to be a 22-man effort and that has been evident this week which has been an interesting one in training.

"Although it’s been a long season, it feels as though it’s starting again. The enthusiasm and energy and the way we’ve gone about this week has been very encouraging.

"The Ospreys have so much talent in depth and you saw, from the way they almost beat Biarritz in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup away from home, just how good they are.

"Every player in a Glasgow jersey will need to play the game of their lives if we are to do it.”