John Mulvihill says bragging rights will be at stake on Boxing Day as Cardiff Blues go head-to-head with rivals Dragons in a mouth-watering festive derby at Cardiff Arms Park.
Both sides head into the Boxing Day encounter with derby victories under their belts. Jason Tovey’s penalty sealed a Cardiff Blues victory over Ospreys at Liberty Stadium, while an injury time drop goal from Sam Davies snatched a dramatic win over Scarlets at Rodney Parade.
Mulvihill, who is set for his first Boxing Day derby experience at the Welsh capital, is excited to see a fiery bumper crowd at the Arms Park, but is fully aware of the challenge posed by Dragons.
“We’re at home, and it’s going to be a massive crowd. We’ve released more tickets, and it will be big crowd here and the place will be bouncing,” said the head coach.
“We play a good style of rugby and we’ll get the crowd into the game as well.
“Last time they came here, it was atrocious conditions and we won by just a few points.
“They always step up to play against the Blues and both teams from the east had victories this week, so it will be a battle for who can get the bragging rights on Boxing Day.
“It will be fantastic to be around and there’s no better place to be than Cardiff Arms Park when the place is packed and the rugby is good.
“Any game here is special, but it will be brilliant to see the fans coming out for Boxing Day. It will spur us on and we can play that exciting brand of rugby that people want to see.
“They’ve been really good. They have a really strong leader there in Dean Ryan, and some of their leaders on the field have really stood up.
“It’s been a new and fresh environment for them, and they’ve had a bounce from that and played some good rugby.
“When they get on the front foot and going forward, Sam Davies gets them around the field pretty well.
“What we don’t want to fall into is keeping them in the game by giving them soft entries, soft penalties and turnovers, which would keep them in the game.
“If we get into the mood of wanting to play, it will be a really good Christmas for everyone.
“They play an exciting brand of rugby as well. We played them here in the Celtic Cup at the start of the season, with both teams putting some of their better players on. They played quite an attractive style of rugby.
“They use a lot of attacking kicks to get into good field positions so it could be an absolute cracker here on Boxing Day.”
The Australian was pleased with his side’s defensive performance in Swansea on Saturday, and is confident they can carry momentum into Boxing Day.
He added: “We haven’t won down at Ospreys since 2005 so we were able to park that this week, had a quick review today and jumped straight into preparations for the Dragons.
“We don’t want to miss that opportunity. We’ve got a short, five-day turnaround and need to get everything right but we’re excited for the week.
“Last week we picked a team that could physically match the Ospreys, and the week was all about how they’d try to physically dominate us.
“I think we did really well in that area, and this week we want to pick a quick team who will be able to move the ball around.
“We’ll see a few little changes and then Scarlets will be a mixture of both games.
“We clawed the win after three yellow cards over 20 minutes of the game, and found ourselves down to 13 men.
“That win was built on our defence, character and attitude down there. This week, we’ll feel better with the ball and we should see more of a Cardiff Blues attacking style of rugby.”
Only a limited amount of tickets are still available for Cardiff Blues' blockbuster Boxing Day derby against Dragons at Cardiff Arms Park. Make sure you grab yours NOW before they sell-out!