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Young pleased to take positives from pre-season defeat

3rd September 2022

Dai Young believes Cardiff can take a huge amount from their pre-season defeat to Gloucester on Friday night.

The Blue and Blacks went down to a 42-17 defeat at Kingsholm in their first pre-season fixture of the year. 

But, as ever, nothing is won in pre-season and the focus was on performance, patterns and playing time for as many as possible. While Cardiff were having their first hit out of the summer, the hosts were near full-strength and fine-tuning in their third.

Cardiff found themselves trailing 28-0 at half-time with indiscipline around the half-way line handing the Cherry and White the opportunity to kick to the corner and unleash their deadly driving line out.

That delivered four first-half tries and shortly after the break Jack Reeves gambled and intercepted for a length of the pitch try. 

However, Cardiff responded with three tries of their own through Kristian Dacey, Aled Summerhill and Harri Millard, in a much-improved second-half performance that pleased Director of Rugby Young.

He said: “We can take a lot of good things from tonight - it was a real worthwhile exercise. It was always going to be a big challenge coming here because this was Gloucester’s third pre-season game, their season starts next week and that was not far off their best team.

“Lots of our boys weren't available for tonight's game, but that's a great challenge for the for the youngsters coming through. We had a very young backline first half, but I thought they did really well. 

“If you look at the first half, we're very competitive for big periods but when we had opportunity, we didn't quite take them. We had big pressure moments, 8, 9, 10 minutes, where we were banging at the line but we didn't come away with anything. 

“The big difference was Gloucester when they had opportunities, they came away with points. We were fortunate that we actually dug in at the right time because that score board could have run away from us.  But four driving lineouts and then an interception, it was hard to take really. 

“We knew the driving lineout was going to be a threat. They’ve probably got the best driving line out in the Premiership and it’s been two year’s in the making with George (Skivington) coming in. He’s really turned that into a weapon.  

“But we have to look at why they had so many. We gave away too many little penalties around the ten metre line, which just meant we were back five metres from our try-line. The best way to defend them is not to five them opportunities. 

“We had a couple of penalties at the scrum but mainly for not rolling away at the breakdown. We are a team that chances its arm a little bit by going for jackals and sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. 

“In the second-half the message was not to chance our arm because we won’t get any reward. We changed our game in the second-half and had one penalty against us. The good thing is we learnt from the first half, we adjusted.

“Nobody wants to lose and nobody wants to rack up big scores but I think we'll take a lot out there tonight and the youngsters will take a lot.  

“We made a couple of good breaks in the first half and we were one pass away on a couple of occasions from getting a few scores and the game could have been a lot closer. 

“I felt for big parts of the second half we have dominated and I’m really pleased with the way the youngsters grew when they could have folded. They didn’t and in the end they came out and gave a good account of themselves.”

Cardiff return to training on Sunday and take on Zebre Parma in their second pre-season friendly at the Arms Park on Friday night. 

That will be the last opportunity to gear up for the URC season opener against Munster on Friday, September 16, and Young who will drip feed in some of his international stars, has urged his team to take another step forward.

He added: “It was a great experience for the youngsters and you only have to look at how young our back line  was with Ellis Bevan, Mason, Max, Jacob. Nobody likes losing but at the end of the day they will learn from a valuable experience. 

“Now, next week we have to build on that. We don’t want to see the rustiness from the first half, we want to build from where we were in the second-half. I’m expecting a big step up again.”