Richie Rees was delighted with Cardiff Blues A's performance in Galway, as victory over Connacht Eagles kept hopes alive for a place in the Celtic Cup final.
Tries from Aled Summerhill, Liam Belcher, Tom James and Harri Millard secured a bonus point win for Wales’ Capital Region at the Sportsground.
Rees’ side are set to host their Ospreys counterparts at the Arms Park on Saturday, knowing a win could be enough to send them into the final, depending on the result in the game between Scarlets A and Dragons A.
The former Wales scrum half was particularly pleased with the opening 40 minutes in Galway, and has been impressed with how the squad have improved from week-to-week in the competition.
“It was a hell of a challenge for them out here in Connacht, and that’s why it’s pleasing to see how well they did,” said Rees.
“You always want to start with the positives, so we spoke to the boys about how good we were in the first half.
“It was probably just the discipline that let us down a little bit in the second half, but at the end of the day it’s a win at the Sportsground.
“A lot of the boys involved wouldn’t have experienced this in the past, having to deal with the conditions as well as a two-night trip, so full credit goes to this young group, with the majority of them having come through the pathway.
“As coaches, what we’ve asked from the boys is to improve from week-to-week. That’s our aim, and it’s been really pleasing to see the work from the training ground being put into practice in a competitive game scenario.
“Since the disappointment out in Leinster, we’ve been delighted with how the boys reacted, especially defensively. Gethin Jenkins has worked hard with them on that aspect, and it was great to see him back out there, leading the side in that aspect.
“We executed the game plan, especially with the clever little kicks behind, and we continued to go there in the second half. It was something we picked up on during the week in the preparations and the boys exploited it.
“We spoke a lot about accuracy and management in certain areas of the field and the boys did that, all credit to them.
“We’ve been off that little 10 per cent over the last couple of weeks but it shows, when we’re on it, how good we can be.”
Rees is excited for Saturday’s derby against Ospreys, but insists the main focus of the competition remains on players’ development.
Rees said: “We’re back home next week against the Ospreys, which will be a bit of a derby, and hopefully we’ll be able to put in a similar performance to the opening 40 minutes in Galway.
“Ideally we want to win next week, but again we’ll probably make a few more changes and try to give some other boys a run.
“It’s what I like about this competition. Going forward, we’ll hopefully get more games and the boys can play more in their combinations.
“That’s how you get better. You know who is playing inside and outside you, you know their strengths and weaknesses and lets play to those.”