Matt Sherratt paid tribute to Cardiff Blues' resilience after they fought back to secure a memorable double over Lyon in the European Challenge Cup.
The Blues were already guaranteed a quarter-final place following last week’s victory over Toulouse and travelled to France with slim hopes of a home tie and a determination to finish the group stages on high.
And they certainly did that as they completed a second double over French opposition to stretch their lead at the top of Pool 2.
Sherratt’s side trailed 12-0 mid-way through the first-half despite dominating territory and possession for much of the opening 40 minutes.
They struck with the final play of the half with Lloyd Williams finishing a Jarrod Evans break and added two more following the break thanks to referee Matthew Carley and Tomos Williams.
Sherratt said: “It would have been very easy to have come here today, after a very good win against Toulouse at home last week and in reality nothing to play for, and not turn up.
“But in the second-half especially we showed the type of team we’ve turned into – very resilient, we stay in games and are tough to beat – so that’s very pleasing.
“It couldn’t have started any worse when they went the length off the kick-off and we butchered a chance in the left hand corner. It was a bit of a 14-point swing but the score before half-time was crucial.
“If we had come in without a positive at half-time it would have been very difficult. But to score at half-time from a really good play from Jarrod and a good finish by Lloyd was key and set us up for the second-half.
“I’m massively pleased with the second-half performance.”
Speaking of Tomos Williams’ match-winner, Sherratt continued: “That’s Jarrod, he’s a cracking running 10 and if any team gives him a little bit of space he has the ability to hurt them and there was brilliant inside support from the nines for both tries.
“We have to give massive credit to the squad as a whole. We had Brad Thyer coming on, Scott Andrews, who has not played a lot of rugby for a while, Kirby Myhill and to front up like they did against a powerful Lyon scrum at the end was massive and epitomised the character of the last 20 minutes.”
The Blues will now face Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield on Easter weekend in the quarter-finals.
Sherratt believes reaching the knock-out stages is a great achievement alone, given the pool his side were drawn in, which was more akin to the Champions Cup with Lyon, Sale Sharks and four-time former Heineken Cup winners Toulouse.
He added: “It’s very easy when you get into the competition to say maybe we have played a weaker team but when we drew this group it could have been a Champions Cup group.
“To do the double over Toulouse and Lyon is massively pleasing. We will go into the quarter-finals with confidence and knowing we’re a tough team to beat.”