Josh Turnbull was pleased with his side’s control and composure in the dying moments of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup win over Dragons Rugby.
The utility forward was named Guinness Player of the Match at Cardiff Arms Park, as Teddy Williams’ late score secured a dramatic victory for the hosts.
However, Turnbull, who was drafted into the side late following an injury to James Botham in the build-up, insists his side must improve their discipline as they target back-to-back victories when they travel to Llanelli to take on Scarlets on Saturday.
“We still reference back to games against Connacht and Munster recently, and they knew how to kill the game off in the closing stages,” explained the Welsh international.
“It’s about taking those learnings to move forward. Against London Irish we were in with a shout but they came away with the ‘w’.
“But today we showed good control down deep in their 22 and we know what we’re doing in there. We came away with the all important try.
“The last minute and a half, we really controlled the play to see off the game. We killed time to get the ball off the pitch and get the win.
“What we need to do is look how we can push that first half performance into the second half as well. It’s such energy-sapping stuff when you have to defend for such long periods of time and you can’t get any foothold in the game.
“We need to look at our discipline, and that doesn’t just come down to whether we give penalties away or not. It’s also discipline in terms of staying in our attacking shape and how we’re defending.
“We can’t give these teams an easy out because that gives them an opportunity to capitalise and get a foot-hold in our 22. When the referee looks at the game, they look at the breakdown and it’s easy to reward the attacking team.
“We spoke all week about winning races around the corner in defence, but when you’re a man down you’re always caught short and you can’t get up off the line as hard to cause problems.
“The Dragons like to make it a bit of a dogfight, especially in the contact area, but you have to stand up to that. It becomes easier to stay on top of them if you keep 15 men on the field.”
British and Irish Lions call-up, Josh Adams, crossed in a first half that was dominated by Dai Young’s men, but Owen Lane’s red card saw the momentum swing in the visitors’ favour.
With Cardiff Blues under intense pressure in their own 22, one of the stand-out moments of the match came as Turnbull produced an excellent turnover on his own try line.
The forward, who also completed a mammoth 25 tackles, says his side’s defensive identity is built around their strength in the breakdown, and they are proud of the threat they pose in the contact area.
“It was nice to get back out there with the boys, and to see some of the younger boys having an opportunity again this week. They really stood up in the end.
“Something we pride ourselves on as a team in defence is getting those turnovers. Over the last couple of seasons we’ve been top of the charts in that area, and it can really change a game.
“Everyone who is a jackal threat works hard on improving that part of their game. For me it’s probably not the top priority of my game, but when it comes to shit or bust I know I need to get my head in there.”