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We must learn the knack of winning tight contests insists Young

First Team News | 27th February 2021

Dai Young insists his side must learn the knack of winning tight contests, after his side were edged out by Conference B leaders Munster on Friday.

On their Guinness PRO14 return to Cardiff Arms Park, the hosts led until Jean Klyne’s 55th minute try, while a Niall Scannell score with two minutes remaining saw a bonus point escape Cardiff’s grasps.

With two games remaining in the season, it leaves Wales’ Capital Region needing two victories and hoping other results fall in their favour if they are to automatically quality for Heineken Champions Cup rugby.

Former Wales international Young believes his young side fronted up well against an experienced Munster outfit and is confident they will learn from the two narrow defeats in recent weeks.

“It was a bit of a mirror image of last week if I’m honest, and what I’ve experienced over the last two weeks is that Irish provinces know how to win a game when it’s tight, and that’s something we’ll need to develop in our game,” said the director of rugby.

“In large parts of the game, we were more than equal to them and I’m really disappointed that we didn’t come away with anything, having missed out on that losing bonus point.

“There were stages in both games where we could’ve won. But with 10 minutes to go, Munster tightened their game up, forced penalties and ground out the win.

“That’s what we need to learn very quickly. We get into stages where we can possibly win games, but we’re getting turned over and giving away penalties, so we need to learn the lessons of the last two weeks and learn how to win tight games.

“There was a bit more experience and know-how in the Connacht and Munster squads but that’s something we’ll learn. But it was far more encouraging.

“There’s a little bit of a fatigue factor, and we need to be fitter to play the game we want to play. We’re certainly not unfit, but just to be that bit fitter.

“We’ve been up against it for a number of weeks, but the Scarlets results just put us back in the mix and gave us a little bit of a chance.

“We still have an outside chance but we have to win two games now, which we’re capable of doing, and maybe need a favour from someone else.

“But we’ll worry about that further down the line. For me the important thing is to win two games and that will take us where it takes us.

“It’s a pity there’s no crowd here because they’re obviously a big factor here. But it’s just great to be back at Cardiff Arms Park.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my night here and the players enjoyed coming back to play here and we’re all looking forward to packed Arms Parks in the future.”

A number of young players featured in the matchday squad on Friday, including the inexperienced half back duo of Ben Thomas and Jamie Hill, 18 year old centre Mason Grady and 19 year debutant loosehead, Theo Bevacqua.

The director of rugby was proud of the youngsters’ displays and has ran out of superlatives for Ellis Jenkins, who was named Guinness Player of the Match in only his second competitive game following a knee injury.

The former British and Irish Lion added: “Jamie Hill played really well, and Ben Thomas, who hasn’t had many reps at 10 in fairness, was outstanding.

“Mason at 13 was fantastic as well. Every time he had the ball he looked a threat and I was really pleased with that.

“Defensively he was really sound as well.

“I was really pleased with the youngsters and when you compared the team-sheets a lot of people were fearing the worst.

“But in saying that, the boys really stood up and gave good accounts for themselves against much more experienced players.

“Munster are run-away leaders in the Conference, but we were more than a match for them tonight.

“We’ll never tap ourselves on the back for losing, but I thought there was a lot of positives.

“You also have to give Ellis Jenkins a lot of credit. I’d had in my head that in these two games he would play 50 minutes last week and probably not be involved in this game.

“So it was a big call for someone who hasn’t played for two years to play two games in two weeks.

“But he’s backed up training with no reaction and gone out and done the job on the field.

“I tip my hat to him. He’s excellent and shown that he’s more than ready to play week-in, week-out.”