Dai Young has been pleased with the first block of BKT United Rugby Championship fixtures but insists plenty of improvement remains and has challenged his side to take the next steps in their development.
The Blue and Blacks go into a brief autumn break with four wins from seven and sit sixth in the Championship table, the highest-placed Welsh side.
Young was frustrated with their home defeat to Edinburgh on Sunday, particularly as Cardiff could have won, but overall he is satisfied with the opening block.
“I am satisfied when you consider where we came from at the end of last season. Even today we were very much in the game, it was a game that could’ve gone either way.
“I haven’t got too excited about us winning three games back-to-back because they were tight games that could have gone either way.
“But we are certainly in games, lots of parts of our game are improving but we are nowhere near the finished article and we have to keep on working hard at it.
“We’re determined not to get on an emotional rollercoaster and win, lose or draw it is about improving and being a better team.
“We have been in all the games apart from against Glasgow, who are a very good team and have shown that once they get on a roll, they are very difficult to stop.
“From where we were last year, where we were leaking a lot of points. Richard Hodges has worked really hard on defence and we’re certainly in games now defensively and making it hard for teams to get points against us.
“If you don’t get that right you won’t progress and we’ve seen signs today of our driving maul which TR has been working hard on , scrum-wise we have been pretty solid right through the block, which is Duane Goodfield’s area and we’re scoring some tries.
“Last season we were leaking too many and not scoring enough so we’re on the right track but we still have a long way to go.
“I’m disappointed really because that’s a game where we should have come away with something. We got over the line three times and had three chalked off but to sum it up, in the last three games we’ve had a bit of luck that’s gone our way and we didn’t have any tonight. You do find that across the season it all repays itself.”
A silver-lining in recent weeks has been the continued emergence and development of the club’s youngsters with Max Llewellyn featuring in all seven games, Mason Grady in six and Theo Cabango in four.
They are just three of numerous young, local players, to be given opportunities in recent weeks with the likes of Teddy Williams, Will Davies-King, Gwilym Bradley and Cam Winnett also featuring.
Young said: “It’s been great to see some of the youngsters playing. This block has allowed us to play some of them and if we can play them, blood them and pick up wins as well then that’s part of the process.
“Part and parcel of my job is to try to get results on the field but also to try to develop players along the way. Mason and Max were the two centres out in Italy when we got stuffed by 60 points and now they’re starting to look more comfortable, Theo’s looking more and more comfortable with every game and it was nice to see Cam out there as well.
“We are starting to bring youngsters through but the ideal thing is not to bring them all together. You don’t want a full back-line of youngsters or a full pack of forwards. Teddy came on and worked really hard, Gwilym Bradley came on.
“These are all young players and the two forwards have worked hard, played for the RFC, shone there and got their opportunity.
“It’s nice to see four or five of them are starting to come through and starting to look comfortable in this arena.”
The Cardiff squad will now enjoy a week or rest and recovery before beginning preparations for back-to-back URC fixtures in South Africa - against Cell C Sharks and then the Vodacom Bulls.
Part of those preparations will be a friendly Anglo-Welsh fixture against Bristol, at Ashton Gate on Friday, November 11.
Young continued: “It’s going to be a long week because it’s always nice going into a week off on a win. On a loss you feel like you have a week before you can start putting things right.
“We’ll dust ourselves off and we’ll play Bristol when we come back. The thinking behind that was looking back to last season, it was a new experience for myself as well, having a block mid-season of three weeks without a game . We tried to have some opposed sessions with local teams, which we didn’t really feel relocated a game and we went into them a little bit undercooked.
“So we looked at Bristol and thankfully they were looking for a game as well. We will have an opportunity to play one or two guys who haven’t had much rugby but it gives us an opportunity to have a game week and we’ll go to South Africa in a much better position than we did last season.”