Josh Turnbull has paid tribute to Cardiff Blues' defensive effort after the ran away 34-5 winners against the Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14.
The victory ensures the Blues finish 2018 on a high, having recorded back-to-back Welsh derby wins over the festive period.
Lloyd Williams and Gareth Anscombe crossed either side of a Rey Lee-Lo brace as Wales’ Capital Region ran riot in Llanelli but their physicality and never-say-die spirit was even more impressive.
The Scarlets, who were unbeaten in 26 home games in the competition, dominated much or the territory and possession in sticky conditions but were marched back time and time again.
And Turnbull, who picked up the Guinness man-of-the-match award, was delighted with his side’s ferocious physicality.
He said: “We didn’t actually speak about a bonus-point, we just spoke about getting the win. Last week was a gritty win against the Dragons but we knew if we put pressure on the Scarlets, like the Ospreys did, that we could get rewards.
“We backed our defence and that was a massive defensive shift from all of the boys. We are quite comfortable to back our defence, get turnovers and play down the other end of the field.
“The boys did really well today so it’s a massive pat on the back, we fronted up and that’s all you can ask each week and it’s not going to get any easier next week against a physical Ospreys team.
“In the last four weeks we’ve had some tough games but physically we have turned up – Sarries away for 40 minutes, Sarries home for 72 minutes, Dragons last week – so to turn up and physically dominate a well-drilled Scarlets team is pretty pleasing.
“It is a little bit surprising, they were 26 home games in the league that they hadn’t lost, which is quite some record so to beat them in the manner we did is pleasing.”
The Blues will now be targeting a hat-trick of Welsh derby victories with a trip to the Liberty Stadium up next. The versatile forward expects a very different challenge but he insists it is vital to topple the likes of the Swansea-based region and Connacht (who sit second and third above them in Conference A) to break into the top three.
He added: “The league could come down to these three derbies, we are taking each game as it comes and we want to win all three to set a marker down.
“We want to be in the top three come the end of the season, we want to be in European rugby, they are our goals and to do that we have to win some big games. We have Connacht in a double header, we have the Ospreys twice and they’re both in our conference so we have to pick up these ‘W’s
“The Ospreys will be completely different. They have a big, physical pack, Sam Davies can kick the ball a mile and they will back him to do that and play in the right areas of the field We have to turn up exactly the same as today, the same mind-set, bring the same physicality and raise the standards again.”