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We must maintain recent performance levels against Edinburgh insists Sherratt

First Team News | 26th October 2022

Matt Sherratt insists Cardiff must replicate their recent performance levels when they welcome Edinburgh to the capital on Sunday (KO 3.00pm).

The Blue and Blacks head into the encounter on the back of three consecutive BKT United Rugby Championship victories, following derby victories over Scarlets and Dragons and a win over defending champions, DHL Stormers, last weekend.

The man in charge of the side’s attack has been pleased with the response from Cardiff following early season defeats to Glasgow and Lions, and has called for more of the same in Sunday’s battle of the capitals cities.

“We’ve probably had a bit of a turning point after the Lions game, where we had three tough fixtures afterwards in terms of Scarlets away, and the Dragons and Stormers at home. Particularly the Scarlets and Dragons games because we didn’t do ourselves justice in the derbies last season.

“To go to Scarlets and show really good heart away from home to get a win, and then back it up with the Dragons game was fantastic. Probably the icing on the cake last week was the beat the champions at home - their first loss in 15 games.

“We’d have snatched your hand off for that beforehand.

“We are very much four from six at the moment. Edinburgh are a place above us in the league, have scored the most tries in the league this season, they’ve recruited well and Mike Blair has gone in there and done a very good job as a coach.

“So I genuinely believe, and this is not just coaching talk, that this is a game that we can’t take our eye off for a second.

“Your derbies are always going to get an emotional response, and you need that against the Stormers too because they’re such a good team that they’ll punish you if not.

“So Edinburgh at home, if we take our eye off the ball or if we’re five per cent less than we should be, then we won’t get the outcome that we need.

“Hopefully we turn up with the same attitude and we improve some aspects of our game. 

“It would be fantastic to finish this block with five wins from seven.”

The assistant coach has also been encouraged by the contributions of Cardiff’s youngsters, believing they’ve benefitted from their early exposure to first team rugby and hopes they will continue to make their mark in the absence of international stars.

“International call-ups are the nature of this league so there’s obviously a lot of planning that goes into the international windows,” added Sherratt.

“Obviously there were only five of ours in the Welsh squad so we’re probably not as decimated as we have been in the past. We’ll obviously miss the boys that are away but the bulk of the squad that have played the first six games are pretty much here anyway.

“We’re in a really good place. I think Edinburgh will be missing 14 but as I said, they’ve recruited well and have the three Argentinians, they’ve got Mata and they’ve still got the nucleus of a strong squad.

“Hopefully it will be a cracking game again because both teams want to play a good brand of rugby.

“If you look at how we finished last week’s game, we had Gwilym Bradley and Teddy Williams coming off the bench, Max in the centre, Mason at 13 and Theo Cabango on the wing. So the balance was good especially with the likes of Priestland, who has experience.

“We’ve got youngsters coming through, and hopefully Cameron Winnett is another who will be involved shortly as well.

“That’s been a real positive for us. I know last year was difficult, but the benefit was that those boys got some rugby under their belts at this level.

“You’re always going to face bumps when a lot of young players first come through. But I think this year, especially with Max in the centre, we’re seeing the benefit of that.

“As I say, last year was disappointing but there are some shoots of encouragement from it.

“Those youngsters are massively important especially during these periods. They’ve been involved and I think something that we have done well over the last 16 to 17 months is blooding the youngsters.”

It was announced earlier today that Cardiff will face Bristol Bears in a series of friendlies this season, travelling to Ashton Gate on Friday November 11 before welcoming Pat Lam’s side over the bridge on Friday, February 24.

Sherratt believes it’s a prime opportunity to keep players match sharp during the international breaks: “The Bristol game will be really important for us. If you look at last season, unfortunately we had big breaks in the season and our first games back after those breaks were Ulster, where we got beaten comfortably away from home, and funnily enough Edinburgh away from home.

“We probably had four or five weeks without rugby, which was forced through Covid.

“So for that game next month, we’ll probably have a mixture of players, but just to have a game is really important for us, especially before we go to South Africa and the challenges that wait for us out there.

“It was almost like restarting after a pre-season last year. So now we have an opportunity to keep the players up to speed with our systems and keep them physically ready, which is massively important.”

Cardiff finish the opening block of BKT United Rugby Championship fixtures against Edinburgh next Sunday at the Arms Park (15:00). Tickets are selling fast but you can secure yours today by clicking here.