Dai Young was delighted to see the game-plan pay off as Cardiff toppled defending champions DHL Stormers on Saturday.
The BKT United Rugby Championship holders arrived in the capital with a 15-game unbeaten run, which came to an end on a memorable evening at the Arms Park.
Following recent wins over Scarlets and Dragons RFC, Cardiff made it three from three as Theo Cabango and Jason Harries crossed for tries in each half, while Rhys Priestland contributed 20 points in a Player of the Match display.
Steered by outside half Priestland, the hosts impressed in the aerial battle and were effective in the breakdown throughout and Young wants the Blue and Blacks to carry the momentum into next week’s encounter with Edinburgh, the final in the first block of fixtures ahead of the international break.
“We beat the champions last year as well, if you remember, when we beat Leinster here. We’re really pleased with our performance tonight. We really fronted up and delivered on the game-plan,” said the Director of Rugby.
“We knew, or felt, that the air would be our friend. So we went to the air quite often and got plenty of joy. We had to make a mess of the contact areas as well and I thought we achieved those goals. Then, when you get opportunities, you’ve got to take them.
“So we’re really pleased. We’re talked all week about backing up two decent performances in the derbies and we’ve done that.
“Obviously we just roll onto next week now. It’s another big game for us and obviously we put pressure on ourselves now to keep these levels of performance up.
“We knew their driving maul was a threat and our discipline had to be top drawer. We went through a bit of a stick period where we were getting done at the tackle area - we were looking to tackle with two-on-ones and when you do those tackles normally the guy that’s low can end up on the wrong side.
“We had to double-up on tackles to win some of the collisions but we started to get pinged there so we got the message out to not be so aggressive at the tackle area and have more confidence in our defensive structure, and we managed to take the penalties out of the game.
“The talk throughout the way was about whether we could back up the two decent performances we’ve and could we learn from last year, knowing this was a team that would put us under pressure? Could we live with that pressure and stick in the arm wrestle?
“I thought they answered all the questions today, and they will need to answer them again next week.
“The players have worked hard for this, but I’m also really pleased for the coaches who have really worked hard and done some good stuff.
“The game-plan was certainly right for tonight and we’ve got to enjoy these nights. You can see a lot of smiling faces out there but consistency is key. Last year we had a really good win over Leinster but the second half of the season fell away from us. We’ve got yo keep our foot on everybody’s throats and make sure we’re getting the best out of them for the full length of the season, not just one block.
“It will be really important for us to finish with a big performance, and if we can do that then it will have been a really good block for us. We get the luxury of a week off and then we’ve got two weeks before we go to South Africa.”
While the experience of Priestland proved crucial on Saturday, he was surrounded by a number of young faces including Cabango, centres Max Llewellyn and Mason Grady and the returning Ben Thomas, who featured at full back.
Young was pleased with the contributions of both young and experienced players, and was delighted to reward an electric Arms Park atmosphere with a win.
“If you look at that team out there, we were a real young team. We had Ben Thomas, Theo, Mason, Max. That’s a real young back line getting an opportunity.
“Teddy Williams and Gwilym Bradley came on and not only are we picking up some decent wins but we’ve bled in some youngsters as well, which is good for the future.
“Rhys controlled the game really well to be fair and certainly on a night like tonight he put us out of danger on a number of occasions.
“He used his kicking game not only to relieve pressure but to put pressure back on them as well.
“He had a great game tonight at 10 and was really accurate in taking the points as well, which is hugely important.
“We’ve got a responsibility on the field and the crowd have been excellent since I’ve been back at the club.
“We’ve had a couple of good results here last year with Leinster and Glasgow and the crowd played a real part in that.
“Even when the performances haven’t been too good, you can never doubt the crowd in getting behind us. But certainly when we’re delivering on the pitch it gets everybody excited.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere at the end and I hope the Cardiff supporters enjoyed it because they deserved it. We had a couple of poor performances towards the end of last season but they stuck with us.
“We’re trying not to get on an emotional rollercoaster this year, and whether we win, lose or draw we’re always looking to improve.”
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.