Dai Young was pleased with Cardiff Rugby’s first pre-season hit out as they fell to English champions Harlequins in an entertaining and high-scoring encounter at the Stoop.
It was a typical pre-season encounter in Twickenham as Cardiff dominated the first-half before Quins ran riot in the second-half.
The Blue and Blacks led by 19-points at the break thanks to tries from Max Llewellyn, Jamie Hill and a brace from Alun Lawrence.
Garyn Smith added a fifth after the break but it only punctuated rampant Harlequins, who called upon an increasing about of their Premiership heroes as the match went on.
They drew level in the final quarter and bagged two late tries to secure a win on an entertaining afternoon.
And Young was pleased with what he saw, despite the defeat, pointing to the many positives and fine-tuning nature of pre-season encounters.
He said: “It was the typical game of two halves. If you look at the two set-ups, we probably did it in reverse - we went stronger to start and brought some less experienced guys on and they did it the other way.
“But it was a really good exercise for us and there were a lot of positives out there. We knew we were playing against the squad that’s just won the championship and you don’t win trophies with a team, you win it with a squad.
“We knew that this would be a big test for us and of course you never want to lose but there were lots of positives.
“It doesn’t change what we’re going to do next week, we know where we are but it’s given us a few things to iron out and get better at, which is what you want at this time of year.
“You can only play at pace and tempo if you are accurate. Yes we want to play at pace and yes we want to play with tempo but that puts a lot of pressure on your skill set and we’ve worked a lot on our fitness to play that game.
“I was really pleased with a lot of aspects in the first half, even our exits were clean, we looked organised and our kick chase was good. Things that didn’t require talent were good. There were lots of good signs but you want to do that for 80 minutes.
“They brought on the back three that played in the Premiership final and you could see some real pace and cutting edge there, the South African centre came on as well. They brought on some real firepower and are a quality outfit without a shadow of doubt.
“But we also have a lot of boys out who are now ready to come back in so we certainly got out of the game what we wanted.”
Up to 20 first team regulars missed the trip to the Stoop and many of those are set to be involved for Friday night’s clash with Bath as the international contingent become available for selection.
The clash against Bath will be a vital final step in Cardiff’s preparations for the new United Rugby Championship season and Young’s number one priority is to get this squad firing on all cylinders and maximising their potential
“First and foremost you have to get them playing somewhere near their potential,” he added.
“When I came on board all the recruitment and retention had been done so the squad we have now is the one we will take forward for the year.
“Like everyone else we probably have too many players and there will be a bit of a reduction going into next year and that’s just because there are less games and overlaps. That will add a little bit of pressure on everybody right through rugby.
“But my job now is to get the best out of this squad and I don’t think we quite got the best out of the squad last season. That’s my job now and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Tickets for Cardiff Rugby versus Bath Rugby on Friday night at the Arms Park are available to purchase now. The fixture is also included in Season Membership packages with both available to purchase here.