John Mulvihill was left feeling proud of his on-field leaders, as they steered Cardiff Blues to a dramatic last gasp victory over Dragons on Friday.
Following a late Jarryd Sage try, Gareth Anscombe snatched victory for Wales’ Capital Region, slotting a penalty with the last kick of the game.
The head coach says he trusted his leaders to give his side a chance of victory, and they delivered, with the Australian also applauding the composure of match-winner, Anscombe.
“We didn’t panic, and when they scored the try at the end I didn’t need to send any messages out because the team is really tight together and there’s some good leaders in there,” said Mulvihill.
“They knew they needed to get into the right area of the field and take their chance when they had it. Our scrum stood up and we got the penalty that we deserved.
“It was a simple message at half time. Make sure we finish with the ball in front.
“But we played a little bit too much around half-way just after half time and once we steadied the ship, the likes of Dan Fish, Tomos Williams and Gareth Anscombe got us into the right positions, and that’s when we become a tough team to keep out.
“We kept grinding away. There was 50 seconds left on the clock when that last scrum went down and last time we played the Dragons they slowed the game down a lot, so I knew it was our last opportunity.
“I’ve watched Gareth kick a lot over the last six months and he doesn’t miss many. I’d already written in my book that he’d kicked it, before he did, so I was lucky I didn’t have to erase that one out.
“That was a win that we needed, and any way they come, we’re happy with that.
“In the first half we were fantastic with that crazy breeze in front of us, and to go into half time at 6-3, we thought we’d turn a corner.
“When we scored a try to go ahead, I thought our next step would be to go again.
“But credit to the Dragons, they hung in there and made it a real contest. That’s what the Welsh derbies are going to be like.
“We’ve had two tough games against Dragons and probably need to be a little bit better going forward into next week with some of the things we didn’t finish off.
“They’re Welshmen. They won’t go away and they hung in there. They’ve grown up with a lot of our guys and played in the same teams as them as well.
“They’ve got a good group, and sometimes when you lose your coach, it galvanises your performances and you certainly saw that from them tonight.”
Next up for Cardiff Blues is a trip to west Wales, as they take on Scarlets on Saturday, December 29, and Mulvihill expects another tough challenge in Llanelli.
“If you look at their team, they have 10 international players and they can turn it on at any given day.
“They’ve got a really good leader in Ken Owens, a really good coaching group, good finishers and they use the ball well.
“Jonathan Davies is on-song at the moment and they will be tough. But we’ll go down there with the mind-set of taking an away win. It will be my first time down there and I’m looking forward to it.”