Richard Hodges praised the character and attitude of the Cardiff Blues squad, following their last gasp victory over Connacht on Saturday.
Two tries from centre Willis Halaholo and a tough late conversion from replacement Jarrod Evans sealed Cardiff Blues’ first victory of the season.
It looked as if a late Shane Delahunt try had secured the win for the home side, but Halaholo’s second edged the scores level on 78 minutes, before Evans’ conversion proved decisive.
But Cardiff Blues assistant coach, Hodges, who works alongside consultant Shaun Edwards on the team’s defensive game-plan, believes the squad cohesion played a key part in getting over the line at the death.
“There was huge character shown by the boys with just two or three minutes left on the clock and for Jarrod to kick that kick, he deserves a lot of credit,” said Hodges.
“The style of play that got us the last try, which gave us shape and Willis getting his second try. It was a really pleasing finish to the game.
“It’s a real close-knit group of players, it has been since day one and we spoke about that before the game.
“To come in at half time with the lead was huge, having defended for long periods of time.
“We won the toss and wanted to play into the wind so to come in with the lead at half time was a real advantage for us.
“But we spoke that the wind wouldn’t win us the game - our kicking game and our kick chase would, and that let us down a little bit at times in the second half but it was huge character from the group to come through.
“Without looking at the stats, I’m guessing we’ve done between 160 and 180 tackles out there, with over 30 phases on our try-line.
“We’ve stripped it back defensively and working hard, with Shaun in on a Tuesday as well, we want an identity about ourselves defensively.
“That’s coming slowly but surely, but we’ve got to keep working hard and we were pretty happy today.”
It’s been quite the week for man-of-the-match Halaholo, who’s third child was born earlier in the week.
Hodges was delighted with the centre’s contribution today and is excited by the potential of the partnership between him and Rey Lee-Lo in midfield.
“He’s been touch and go all week with a baby due, so a big thanks to Ms Halaholo for popping the baby out on Wednesday, meaning he’d be able to play.
“He’s coming in to a run of form now. Him and Rey, defensively, had their best performance and after having a bit of heat on them last week, where they were a bit disconnected at times.
“They’re heading in the right direction, they’re a real solid partnership and probably as good as anything else around in the league.”
Next up for Danny Wilson’s side is another away trip to Ireland, where they will take on Munster, who go into the game on the back of a defeat to Glasgow Warriors last night.
Hodges insists the Blues can draw inspiration from today’s win, as well as last year’s away victory over Munster.
“It doesn’t stop in this league does it.
“We’ve got Munster away next week, and we won there last year. We’ve had a good look at them over the past couple of days and they play a similar style and brand of rugby.
“They’ll be hurting after last night up in Glasgow, but we can go there full of confidence and try to nick another win.”