John Mulvihill has urged Cardiff Blues supporters to make themselves heard at Rodney Parade, ahead of the first Welsh derby of the season.
Wales’ Capital Region travel to Newport to take on Dragons on Saturday, with both sides having registered two wins each in the Guinnness PRO14 this season.
Mulvihill is expecting another typically fiery affair at Rodney Parade, but says derby fixtures are occasions to savour.
It’s the national sport here. I’m sure the Dragons supporters will be out in force, but we’ll have a third or a quarter of the ground as well,” said Mulvihill.
“We have some fantastic supporters, the best in the league, who follow us around all over the place.
“We’re sure they’ll pack the ground and there will be some big noise coming from our end.
“It should be fantastic. I remember my days playing rugby down at Navan and all the local derbies were quite precocial, so I’m sure it will be pretty hostile down there.
“But we’ll just make sure we look after our side of the field and make sure we’re ready to go.
“They will bring a lot of physicality. You look at all the games they’ve played and they’ve been in it early on. Even against Leinster it was quite tight there early on.
“They’ll have a big back row, who will make it a physical battle. Their nine and 10 are sharp and we’re going to make sure our kick-chase is good because they have a full back who brings the ball back well.
“They’ve put a couple of early wins on the board against good opposition so this will be their first crack at going against their neighbours, and I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.
“It could come down to a real scrap and we don’t want it to be an arm-wrestle. We want to make sure the game is open.
“It will all depend on the weather, and I’ve heard the conditions won’t be too good, with a bit of rain all day.
“They have a fantastic pitch down there, so the surface should be ok, but if it does rain it will even it up and slow the game down and brings that arm-wrestle back into play.”
Mulvihill’s side head into the derby encounter following back-to-back home victories, against Munster and Cheetahs, which leaves them with 13 points in Conference A.
The Australian is happy to see his side react, following three last-gasp defeats in the opening stages of the campaign, but says they must be on the money against their east Wales rivals.
Mulvihill said: “That Cheetahs game came at a really good time for us. We understand that any team in the competition, on their day, is capable of putting a good score on you.
“If we’re not at 100 per cent this week, it’s going to be really tough and it will come down to the final few minutes.
“It would be fantastic for our crowd, plus our coaches’ hearts, that we can be in control of the game a little bit earlier than we have been.
“If we can come away with a good win this weekend, then we will probably be sitting second on the ladder after six games, and that would be a good start.
“You can’t look back on what should’ve been, because it just didn’t happen. It would’ve been nice to pick those points up but we’ve learnt a lot about each other in that time and it’s made us a bit stronger, coming out the other end.”