Josh Turnbull has paid tribute to Jarrod Evans and Cardiff Blues' mental fortitude and character after they snatched a thrilling Guinness PRO14 victory against Connacht.
It appeared as though the Irish province has dealt the match-winning blow when Shane Delahunt rumbled over for his team’s second try on 76 minutes.
But the Blues refused to go down and they manufactured a scoring opportunity, which Wills Halaholo gladly finished.
That levelled the scores and Evans judged the strong wind to perfection as he aimed his kick a metre to the left of the posts and saw it sail back through.
Turnbull said: “It means a lot, especially after the last few weeks. We’ve had a tough few weeks, losing narrowly last week as well, but credit to the boys they really dug in deep.
“It was a case of never writing us off, coming back at 75 minutes and digging deep to get that last try to win it.
“Previously we may have folded but we have a really strong group in there, a really tight group and it’s a case of getting the ball back and going for the try.
“All credit to Jarrod for slotting it over with the wind blowing the opposite direction. Also massive credit to the boys for digging in deep, especially in the last few minutes to get the ball back, to play out the scrum and go through some phases.”
With difficult conditions battering the Sportsground in Galway, the Blues utilised two different game-plans in each half.
The plan worked perfectly in the first 40 as they took a 7-3 lead into the break but Connacht fought back. They claimed two well-worked tries but the Blues never gave in.
With 76-minutes on the clock, they regained possession and went on the attack with impressive composure.
Halaholo made a half break and after Seb Davies galloped forward at the next phase, Evans found the centre in space and he eased around inside defence, dummying to the right.
Turnbull took great pride from the Blues’ defensive display and he has called on them to continue building ahead of next weekend’s clash with Munster in Limerick.
He added: “When you have backs like Willis, Rey Lee-Lo, Cuthy (Alex Cuthbert), TJ (Tom James), all guys who are capable of breaking a game up, you just want to get the ball in their hands.
“We went into it with a certain game-plan to play into the wind and in the second-half we had another game-plan, which was a little bit more about keeping the ball and playing in the right areas of the field.
“But Connacht went through the phases and their first try saw them go through 30-odd phases. All credit to the boys, they were digging in deep, there were some big shots going in as well and we have to keep building on that every week moving forward.
“People have written us off before going out to Munster but we went there last year and won. It’s a massive, massive game and hopefully we can go out there and get a W.
“A win out in Connacht is massive and for us it’s about going out and replicating that performance and building on it going into Munster next week.”
Cardiff Blues return to Cardiff Arms Park on Friday, October 6, when they face the Dragons in the first Welsh derby of the season. Buy your tickets today at help us Pack CAP.