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Sherratt eyes further European success

First Team News | 14th December 2022

Matt Sheratt believes Cardiff can embark on a European Challenge Cup run and use the competition as a springboard for the BKT United Rugby Championship season. 

The Blue and Blacks have twice won the competition - the only Welsh team to win European silverware - and the backs and attack coach insists it remains a realistic target.

Cardiff secured a bonus-point victory over Brive in Round One of the competition and they travel to Newcastle Falcons this weekend with Sherratt confident his side can set up a cup run.

He said: “It’s a challenge for all Welsh regions but if you can get your best 23 in a match-day squad then in one off games we’re a match for any team in the league.

“The early rounds of this competition are always the telling time. You play two or three games, see where you sit and then when you go to knockout rugby it goes up a notch, especially with the champions cup competitions coming in. 

“But I fancy our chances in it. We had a good start, we got five points although it probably wasn’t the best performance that we’ve had this season but it was job done. If we can go up to Newcastle and pick some points up, it leaves us in a pretty good place before the derbies. 

“I’ve always enjoyed it (the Challenge Cup). As soon as you pick some points up and you can see something tangible at the end then the importance grows. 

“There’s only two things you can win each year, the league or a cup competition. The league is a huge challenge because the strength of the Irish teams and the South African teams so we’re in a European competition and it’s something you can win. 

“The club has shown in the past, they have won it twice and you can build something off it. It’s a welcome break from the league season.”

Sherratt has been pleased with the way the side have progressed this season, following a disappointing second-half to the 2021-22 campaign.

Cardiff are currently top of the URC Welsh shield, six points clear of the Dragons, and have picked up notable wins at home against reigning champions DHL Stormers and in Durban against the Cell C Sharks. 

He continued: “I’m please with where we are. That was the big thing from last season. We’ve always got a big game in us, we beat Glasgow at home last year, we beat Leinster at home, this year we’ve beat the Stormers at home but the most pleasing thing is our level of performance. 

“We haven’t been 9/10 one week and then dropped to a 4/10 the next, which if I’m honest, we had the capability of doing last year. If we can be 7/10 most weeks, if we’re on it we go to 8 or 9/10 and if we drop we’re 6/10 that’s what we need to show more of.”

And that level of consistent performance will be critically important on Saturday against Newcaslte, who lost their opening Challenge Cup fixture against Connacht.

The Falcons have toppled the likes of Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs and Kingston Park and Sherratt is acutely aware of the threat they pose. 

He added: “When I was at Worcester, we played against them two or three times and the first thing to consider is it’s a tough place to go. 

“They are a pretty abrasive team, it’s a hard place to go up in Newcastle, they’re very good at the basics - their scrum and line out is good, they have a good front five, defensively they’re pretty solid - it’s a challenge in all the fundamentals. 

“They are a pretty physical team who do the basics well but if we can get a foothold in terms of where we play the game, dominating collisions on both sides of the ball then we’ll have a good chance.”