Danny Wilson praised the spirit and hard work shown by his Cardiff Blues as they edged out Bristol Rugby 31-26 in a pulsating friendly at Aston Gate - but warned the hard work must continue for his developing side.
Aled Summerhill, Dan Fish, Owen Jenkins and, crucially, a late score from Tavis Knoyle ensured Cardiff Blues opened up pre-season with a hard-fought victory against Wilson’s former club.
Cardiff Blues were forced to withstand a huge second half fight-back from the hosts as they edged ahead going into the final quarter after a forward inspired comeback.
But Knoyle’s try and a solid and composed defensive show in the final minutes as Bristol staged one last surge to try and take the win saw the region prevail.
Wilson said: “I was obviously pleased with the win. We had spoken about improving our spirit and showing that we can win games in hard times and fight to the end. We showed that tonight.
“Our defensive effort was good against a strong Bristol attack. I’m not sure how many phases we had to withstand at the end of the game but we held out.
“We showed improvement in defence, but we have a long way to go in that department yet. Perhaps tonight we put ourselves under pressure with some poor discipline.
“But flip that to our attack and we scored some nice tries by playing some of the rugby that we want to play.
“Our discipline was definitely an area of concern for me; we gave away a lot of penalties and we need to look at that. But to start with a win was pleasing.”
Blues stormed out of the blocks to score two tries in the opening five minutes, but Wilson refused to get carried away as he focused on the 80-minute performance.
“Our attacking shape in the first half was excellent and we caused them some problems by playing that way,” he added.
“But we had a patch of 20 minutes at the start of the second half when they caused us a load of problems, both with discipline and conceding a couple of tries from drives.
“There is lots to improve on; lots to work on yet. But we came away with a win through spirit and hard work and to show that now is really pleasing for us.
“It was nice to come back and see people I know well,” he added. “There are a group of players and staff here that I worked hard with last season. It’s great to see the stadium developing too.
“But the most important thing about tonight was Cardiff Blues, not me, and getting a win.”