James Botham is confident that Cardiff are edging ever-closer to producing complete performances, following the narrow Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup defeat to Munster.
The back row returned to action for the first time since the start of April during last week’s trip to Limerick, having recovered from a calf injury.
Despite a Tomos Williams brace, and a second half try from Lloyd Williams, Dai Young’s side eventually fell to defeat at Thomond Park after a late Keynan Knox score.
While there are still aspects of the game that needs improving, the Welsh international is confident that his side are moving in the right direction as they look ahead to the final game of the season against Zebre.
Botham said: “It was a tough one to take, having flown out on the morning of the game, getting out there and then losing by a couple of points at the death, with the captain’s review as well. It was gutting.
“There were a lot of positives but once again it was the discipline with us which seems to be the same issue week in, week out.
“As soon as we can crack that, we’ll be able to put in the full 80 minutes. That was probably one of our better performances, being on top for 70 minutes, but if we can do the full 80 then we’ll be able to turn teams over like Munster with no problem.
“But everything seems to be moving in the right direction. Dai has come in and taken the job on with the grit of his teeth.
“He’s done a great job and we’re all looking up now towards the future. After one more game the season is up for us so it’ll be about coming together, regrouping after some time off and getting everyone on the same page.
“When we come back together for next season we want to show the fans and everyone else what we’re made of.”
It’s been quite the season for 23 year old Botham. Having broken into the Cardiff Blues side in the early stages of the season, his rapid rise continued with a call up into Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad during the autumn campaign.
The back row went on to win six caps on the international stage, but now he refuses to become complacent as he targets further honours in the future.
“It was really good to be back out there for the first time in a few weeks. I felt a little bit rusty in the first half and playing on the grass was definitely a little bit different to the usual 4G, and I was cramping up a bit towards the end,” explained the former Sedbergh School pupil.
“But it was just great to be back out there with the boys and I’m just focused on getting the best possible results and get as good as I can, as soon as I can.
“A lot has happened for me this year, and a lot of it has fallen on a plate for me. I’ve just tried to take everything as it comes with the opportunities that you get.
“There’s nothing much more to say on it. It’s about keeping your head down and hopefully things will happen for you.
“You’re going to have your ups-and-downs, and I’ve experienced that in my career, but I’ve also tried to keep my head down and that’s paid out quite well so far.
“I didn’t expect that first call-up. It literally all happened overnight from receiving the phone call to going into camp and playing in the autumn.
“It was same again for the Six Nations, getting the call after a couple of injuries, and the outcome there was amazing.
“It’s almost as if it’s not real. It’s pretty surreal how everything happened and as I keep telling my family, I never thought over these months that I’d be in this situation.
“It’s great and now it’s about taking the next steps. I want to do as much as I can and when I’m back playing with the boys, day in and day out, I want to show what I’ve got, do my best and hopefully get the results that everyone wants."