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Mulvihill applauds his side's game management and maturity in Zebre win.

Blues News | 2nd October 2020

John Mulvihill applauded his side’s game management and maturity, which guided Cardiff Blues to an opening day victory over Zebre, despite Josh Turnbull’s second half red card.

Wales’ Capital Region were reduced to 14 men early in the second half after the Welsh international was given his marching orders following a high tackle on Maxime Mbanda.

However, Mulvihill was delighted to seal a crucial away victory in the first game of the season, and wants to see his side build on the performance in Parma.

“It’s always really good to get a win first up, but also a win away from home is massive for us and it will help us build confidence going forward,” said the head coach.

“The boys deserved a lot of credit for doing some problem solving on the pitch, without a lot of instructions from the coaches.

“They worked out the scrum, and who goes to number eight, how many we put in the rucks and where the number nine plays. 

“They managed the game really well tonight, and that was always our intention. We knew that Zebre would want a chaotic game, and we wanted a controlled game, so that’s why we probably played a little bit slower.

“We used contestable kicks and played a bit more territory than we usually do to make them have to play the game and come from deep.

“The turnovers were spread equally around the team tonight. We’re a really good defensive team and we need to keep working on how we transfer from defence into attack.

“Our set-piece was pretty special tonight but we didn’t get a lot of opportunities at the right end of the field with the ball, and we were pretty basic with our starters.

“But it was really important we got off to a winning start and we can move forward from this now.

“We talked about consistency and over the last decade Cardiff Blues haven’t been as consistent as they need to be. 

“That’s something we’re definitely working on, both on and off the pitch, and we’ll get back to the grind next week.

“Connacht will come at us, and they have some really good attacking weapons. We just need to be up to our game, get our strategy done for them and aim up again next Saturday.

“We showed against Scarlets that we weren’t up for the fight, but against Ospreys we were. And from that day we’ve really improved. 

“We had those two games early, then back into training, and you’ll always be nervous coming here on day one, in front of the crowd, with someone like Carlo Canna pulling the strings.

“But you saw up to half time that they were in the contest.”

Cory Hill skippered his home region for the first time since returning to the Welsh capital from Dragons over the summer.

Alongside James Botham, Shane Lewis-Hughes and Seb Davies, Hill was part of an impressive loose forwards unit - at an average age of 24 years old - which proved crucial in disrupting Zebre’s attack throughout.

Mulvihill added: “Every week Cory’s in our building he gets better. There was no hesitation from me to name him captain this week.

“When he took over the mantle he stepped it up another level. 

“Obviously he does his talking on the pitch and he really controlled that group tonight.

“In tandem, Shane and Jim work really well and they’re very hard on the ball. 

“Seb Davies has been a different man since he’s had his little baby over the last month or so.

“He’s really stepped up, shown maturity and we can see the fruition of that on the pitch.”