John Mulvihill has paid tribute to the “togetherness” of his Cardiff Blues squad as they battled through adversity to secure a bonus-point win over Rugby Calvisano.
The Blues were just one point ahead of their Italian hosts as they entered the final quarter and an upset was on the cards.
But Wales’ Capital Region dug deep and scored three tries through James Botham, Rey Lee-Lo and Harri Millard to wrap up a maximum points victory following first half tries from Matthew Morgan and Seb Davies.
Mulvihill said: “It’s the first time we have won in Italy in 18 months and to take five points back on the plane with us is fantastic. We weren’t good for periods of the first half and probably didn’t show them enough respect, playing with too much ball but we gained control at half-time and to score three tries at the end was great.
“We knew they were going to come in hard because we’ve watched their last three games. We haven’t come into this competition blind, we’ve had a good look at them, and we knew they had a big physical pack.
“At times they did impose themselves on us but we knew with our ball movement that we could eventually break them down.
“Congratulations to Calvisano because they came with a real intensity in defence and some teams would fall away but they hung in there, which was really good to see.
“If that togetherness wasn’t there today then we wouldn’t have won. Calvisano had some pressure at 17-16 with 15 minutes to go but there was a stride in their step so I am really happy that we pulled together.”
Mulvihill was particularly pleased with the young players, who were given chances to step into the team. 22 of the match-day 23 were Welsh-qualified and 16 products of the Cardiff Blues academy with Will Davies-King and James Ratti making their senior debuts and James Botham and Ben Thomas their first European debuts.
Mulvihill added: “Jim Botham started the game and was fantastic, it was really good to see James Ratti bring his physicality around the field and for a lock to come on and impose himself on the pitch was great, Will Davies-King held a really important scrum together when we were a man down just before half time and Ben Thomas came on and did really well.”
Cardiff Blues are next in action on Saturday, November 23, when they host Leicester Tigers at Cardiff Arms Park. Tickets are available now by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030.