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Young challenges Cardiff to book home draw in knockout stages

First Team News | 15th January 2023

After booking their place in the Challenge Cup knockout stages, Dai Young has challenged his Cardiff side to secure a home draw for the last 16 as they turn their attention to next week's trip to Brive.

The Blue and Blacks ran in six tries on Sunday to secure a bonus point win over Newcastle Falcons, maintaining their maximum points haul in this year’s campaign.

With the capital club regaining their top spot Pool A, Young was pleased to see a reaction following derby defeats to Ospreys and Scarlets as Cardiff returned to winning ways.

“It wasn’t a perfect performance, but you don’t get perfect performances anyway,” said the former Wales prop.

“We spoke about learning from last week, where the first 25 minutes were the worst 25 minutes we’ve played in a long time. That game became very difficult for us to turn around.

“So we had a massive emphasis on starting well and winning the first 25 minutes, and we did that.

“I felt we were in control after that. We showed good passages of our defensive ability and our line-out functioned well after being a little bit of an achilles heel for us, and we scored some points.

“There’s still bits of messiness in our game, which we need to clear up, but on the whole it was a pretty positive performance.

“I was really disappointed with last week’s 25 minutes, and I’m only echoing what the players are feeling themselves.

“They were really disappointed with the first 25 minutes, so it was important we got a win today. It was important for the supporters as well, just as much as anyone else, because they’ve come out in their numbers over the last two weeks. It was important today that we put a good performance in.

“It’s worth mentioning as well that we had a fully Welsh qualified 23 out there, which is a real big shot in the arm for our development pathway and academy.

“Some youngsters coming through are starting to look really comfortable in that arena.

“It was a really positive performance to take us through, which is the first tick in the box. The second tick in the box for us now is about Brive next week and making sure we get a win out there. Hopefully that will give us a home draw in the knockouts.

“But if you go out there with a frame of mind that you only need one or two points, you’ll end up coming back with nothing. So we’ve got to go there to win.

“A home draw would be important for any team. Everybody is far more comfortable at home. 

“The first thing we talked about at the start of the season was about making sure we tick the box and qualify out of the group, which we’ve done. The next one now is get that home draw.

“So we know that we’ve got to go to Brive and get something. If we can get a result out there, hopefully that means we finish in the top two and that gives us a real shot then. There’s only quality teams in this competition, but we’d be facing those quality teams at home.”

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Young on Sunday, as he was forced to make a number of changes due to injury, leaving only five in the backline by the end of the match.

Discussing his options ahead of next week’s trip to France, the director of rugby explained: “Certainly we will have a bit of a patched up backline. That is a concern for us, but we’ll see who comes through after today.

“Jason Harries has a bit of a bruised heel, so that could be just settling down.

“Harri Millard looked quite nasty with his knee injury, and Laney rolled his ankle but we won’t know how bad that is and the next 48 hours will tell us more.

“Josh Adams won’t be available next week because of the player plans. You can’t play more than six on the bounce, so he’s off next week which is understandable. You agree on the playing plans earlier in the season. 

“Whoever goes out there will put that jersey on and will do the jersey proud. But as I say, we’re certainly getting stretched at the moment.”