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We need CAP crowd more than ever ahead of crucial Glasgow clash insists Hodges

12th February 2019

The Arms Park crowd can give Cardiff Blues a vital momentum boost during Saturday's crucial Guinness PRO14 encounter against Glasgow Warriors, according to Richard Hodges.

Wales’ Capital Region take on their Conference A rivals as they look to continue their hunt for a place in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

The defence coach has been encouraged by the squad’s attitude to perform under pressure and insists the Blues are proud of their record at the Welsh capital.

“The Arms Park crowd appreciate and understand the game. They’ll really get on top of the opposition, and really cheer when we get a good turnover. The noise levels go through the roof,” said Hodges.

“It gives them an extra oomph and energy across the park, and the Arms Park crowd is spot on. We need them more than ever on Saturday because you can’t underestimate the importance of the game.

“We knew that the Connacht game was our biggest game of the season at that point, but a win there meant that the next game would become even more important, and that will be the knock-on effect in the final few weeks of the season.

“However, this group of players thrive on expectation and pressure and big one-off games. 

“There’s a lot more than pride at stake. We’re at a time of the season where results need to come thick and fast.

“We’ve been vocal about wanting to finish at the top table, and we’ll have another huge challenge against a strong Edinburgh the following week. But first things first, that game will only take a huge importance if we beat Glasgow.

“We’re at home and we have a strong and proud record at Cardiff Arms Park, so we need to get our defensive identity all over the game.

“There is a good collective spirit within the group at the minute, and they’re working hard for their mates alongside them, which is half the battle. There’s a good attitude in there.

“Everyone knows how we’ll defend, and they’ll come here with a plan until they get punched in the face.

“You have the likes of Nick, Olly, Rey and Willis who will put their heads in there and try to win the ball back for their team-mates.

“If we make sure that we get off the line and win collision, and ultimately the gain-line, that will allow us to dominate the contact area and put our best foot forward.”

John Mulvihill’s side have already faced the Warriors three times this season, with the Scottish outfit claiming victories on each occasion.

Hodges admits his side will have to be at their best to claim victory, but is confident they can learn from past defeats to Dave Rennie’s side.

The defence coach said: “We’ve had three cracks at Glasgow, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we didn’t get close to them in the first two, while the third was a little bit better.

“We’ve highlighted a few key areas this week and certainly from a defensive point-of-view we haven’t performed in any of those games. They’re the one team who have had a stranglehold on us this season in that area.

“However, we’ve looked at the problem areas, and the solution to that, and will hopefully put it into practice on Saturday night.

“Scotland traditionally give a lot of players back during fallow weeks, and the likes of Adam Hastings, Zander Fagerson, and Nick Grigg weren’t involved against Ireland on the weekend.

“We plan to face their best side, and they will no doubt be a very strong and competitive side, and it can be like playing against a Super Rugby team in terms of their style of rugby.

“Glasgow have an attacking identity about them, where they kick the least in the Championship, and they’ll chance their luck from almost anywhere.

“We have to be bang on the money and have a strong foothold on the game in the opening 20 minutes.”