Dai Young was delighted to take five points from Cardiff’s Italian job as the BKT United Rugby Championship culminates in the coming weeks.
The Blue and Blacks knew had to win to keep themselves in the driving seat for the Welsh Shield and in touching distance of the play-off places.
They were cruising to victory thanks to a first-half brace from James Botham and further tries from Mason Grady and Liam Belcher at Stadio Lanfranchi but Zebre Parma set up a nail-biting finale.
They added two more tries to their first, scored inside the opening three minutes, but Cardiff clung on for a maximum points haul with just two rounds of the Championship remaining.
Young said: “We couldn’t have got any more out of it. Five points - we would have settle for that before the game.
“There was lots of good stuff from us and a typical Zebre as well. If you look at the way they’ve played all year, anything that comes loose, they become a real threat.
“When we were structured, when we kept our set-piece was going, dominant at scrum time, dominant at maul time, we took the game away from them but when the game became a bit loose they caused us problems. But to come out here and get five points, we’re happy with that.
“We knew we could cause them problems at scrum time and if that gave us field position and momentum, we could cause them problems with our driving line out and that was pretty much the case.
“But we also knew they would cause us problems if the game was loose because they have some real attacking players, they are good in transition and we needed to keep it structured. Lloyd Williams’ kicking game was excellent, especially when he rolled his ankle it was admirable that he carried on and he played to the standard he always plays at.
“We’re pleased to get that win because they never go away and if you watch them, they have a lot of matches like that. It was a nervy end because we’ve seen them do it before and when you’re away from home and you have Italian touch judges, you need to be squeaky clean.
“The message went on from Richard Hodges to leave the breakdown, we didn’t want to risk anything, just win collisions and hunt the mistake. The last thing we wanted to do was give a penalty away and give them field position.”
Cardiff face Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup next weekend but will then turn attention back to the URC with all to play for.
They travel to Connacht, who are one place above in eighth, next before a Judgement Day clash with the Ospreys at the Principality Stadium.
Young continued: “I think the top eight, we need somebody to do us a favour - someone needs to drop points in front of us.
“Connacht is always a difficult place to go and get a result but we’ll go there with confidence and Judgement Day it is all on.
“We have seen season on season that form goes out the window in Welsh derbies. We need to go into that derby in pole position and hopefully we can get over the line."
Young also sent the best wishes of the squad to the club’s Life President Peter Thomas, who was watching the game in Cardiff due to illness.
The director of rugby added: “Peter doesn’t miss many trips but he’s poorly at the moment and hasn’t travelled. When he’s not here we really miss him because he’s a big part of us. Our best wishes go to him.
“He’s a Merthyr boy, a fighter and hopefully he can battle through this and he’ll be back with us very shortly. We all miss him and we’re looking forward to getting him back here.”
Cardiff take on Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday, April 1 (8pm) with tickets available now. Call 029 20 302030 during normal office hours or click here to buy yours today!