Dillon Lewis believes the upcoming weeks will be vital for Cardiff Blues as they look to climb Conference A in the Guinness PRO14.
John Mulvihill’s side got back to winning ways on Friday, as Gareth Anscombe’s last-gasp penalty sealed victory over Dragons at Cardiff Arms Park.
The focus now turns to the remaining festive derbies - against Scarlets and Ospreys, respectively - and Lewis insists these games will be important as they look to press their claims for a spot in next season’s Champions Cup.
“The next two games, against Scarlets and Ospreys, are going to be tough, no doubt, but we know what to expect when we come up against these sides.
“These are the fixtures that everyone wants to play in. The Scarlets have had a tough couple of weeks recently, so we can look forward to this game, and it’s an exciting period for us as a team.
“I think we’ve left a few results on the field this season, and have lost games we definitely could have won.
“The next four weeks is going to be huge, because we have to continue winning and picking up results to stay in touch with the top three.
“We can put Europe behind us and concentrate on the PRO14. It’s a really important block and everyone in the squad is aware of that.
“On a personal level, I have to concentrate on my performances for the region. I’ve had more game-time this season and am really enjoying my rugby at the moment.
“But I have to keep building and working hard to keep my place in the side, and only then I can look at putting my hand up for international selection.”
Following a late try from Jarryd Sage, it looked like Dragons would come away with a draw at the Welsh capital.
However, in the wind and the rain, Anscombe stepped up to the tee to land a match-winning penalty and secure his side the four points.
According to Lewis, the conditions made it hard for his side to put a stamp on the game, as Dragons’ pack looked to take advantage of the atrocious weather.
“We knew before the game that the weather would make it tough for us, and that would suit the Dragons.
“There were a few decision that went against us, and we found ourselves in a tough place at times.
“Dragons brought a strong set-piece with them, but it was good to see Gareth [Anscombe] making no mistakes with his kick at the end to seal the win.
“He stepped up throughout to kick points when we needed them, and that proved the difference.
“Derby games against Dragons are never easy, and with a strong pack we always expect a bit of a dogfight when we play against them.
“Also, when a coach leaves, you often see a team react, and that’s what Dragons did against us. They stepped up, performed well and made it tough for us out there.
“They are a young side but contain a number of excellent players like Hallam Amos, Aaron Wainwright, Elliot Dee and Cory Hill, and they’ve already shown that they can perform.”