Josh Turnbull believes the upcoming festive derbies will present the perfect opportunity for Cardiff Blues to bounce back from tough defeats over the last four weeks.
John Mulvihill’s side displayed plenty of passion, effort and promise in spirited performances against Ulster and during the back-to-back defeats against English champions, Saracens.
However, with the festive derbies set to kick off as Dragons visit Cardiff Arms Park on Friday, Turnbull insists the next three games could be season-defining for Wales’ Capital Region.
“We’ve had a couple of losses now, but there’s no better way to put it right than against Dragons in the derby next week,” said Turnbull.
“We need to make sure we worry about ourselves, put ourselves in the best possible position to get a win on Friday and really put the hurt the boys are feeling from some tough losses on Dragons.
“Every year, these derbies are massive and often they can define your season, and I have no doubt that this year the games against Dragons, Scarlets and Ospreys could define us.
“We had a pretty slow start to the season, and you will always look back to the two games out in Italy, which was tough to take, but we showed how we can bounce back from those situations.”
Tries from Rey Lee-Lo and Dan Fish gave Cardiff Blues a half time lead against two-times Heineken Champions Cup winners, Saracens.
But the boot of Owen Farrell edged Mark McCall’s side back ahead, before Jamie George’s 75th minute try put the result beyond doubt.
Turnbull admired his side’s effort in the encounter and was encouraged as Wales’ Capital Region went toe-to-toe with one of Europe’s elite clubs.
The Welsh international said: “The messages at half time was pretty much to do the same thing. We wanted to stay in the game and we weren’t a million miles away.
“We were in the fight right until the last five minutes when they got their last try.
“Everyone is disappointed with the result but you can’t fault the boys’ effort. Everyone really dug in deep from one to 23, and that’s what we need is that team effort.
“We caused them a lot of problems, and the rub of the green didn’t come our way at times, and sometimes you have to accept that.
“But if we had come away with more when they were a man down after the yellow card, we would’ve put ourselves in a different position and the pressure would’ve been back on them again. If you go for the three-pointers against them, you won’t get very far.
“But the biggest thing for us is that we backed ourselves, and you saw that especially with Rey’s try in the first half.
“After being pushed backwards in the previous scrum, you saw the character of the pack to say that we can do it, and we did. We set a platform for the backs and it’s important to do that every time we’re in those positions.
“What we have to do now is make sure we finish this year, and this campaign, and make sure we’re back competing in the top tier of European rugby next year, and every year. That will be our goal and focus from now on.”