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Young pleased with squad contribution in opening day win

First Team News | 25th September 2021

Dai Young was left pleased with the contribution of his entire matchday squad as Cardiff secured an opening day bonus point win over Connacht, against the odds.

By the end of the opening quarter, the Blue and Blacks were left without an outside half after Rhys Priestland and Jarrod Evans were forced off the field with injuries.

Scrum half Lloyd Williams slotted into the number 10 position for the following hour but a sensational second half performance saw the hosts claim maximum points.

While the likes of Owen Lane - who was named URC Player of the Match - and Tomos Williams took the plaudits, the Director of Rugby was impressed with how his entire side dug in to battle back from adversity and kick start the campaign with a win.

“Owen Lane always looks dangerous. Every time he had the ball he looked dangerous,” explained Young.

“But that’s like most of our backs. I thought Willis in the centre was excellent and when does Rey have a bad game anyway?

“Our backs looked really dangerous and the only thing that has stopped Laney from having more international involvement is injuries. 

“He’s worked hard in pre-season and if we can keep him on the field, injury free, he will only get better and better.

“Ratti carried really well and Boydey did well when coming on. People speak about our numbers in the back row but very few of them have played a lot over the last couple of seasons.

“It’s great to see Ellis back and he contributed to a strong performance and a great win.

“We have to be realistic. He’s been out for a long time but he played well tonight.

“For both Corey [Domachowski] and Rhys Carré, I’m really pleased with what they give us. They’re still young players and they’re making their way in the game.

“When you throw in Dmitri and Dillon as well, there’s four props there with a couple of boys behind pushing them. 

“We’ve got four props where it doesn’t really matter who starts and who comes from the bench, you’re going to get performances out of them.

“It was great to see Belcher coming on as well, and he did a good job. He took a bang to the head in the last game so didn’t have much of an opportunity.

“But he came on and put in some really big hits and showed work rate.

“Seb was top drawer until he got his yellow card and Screechy fitted in really well. He was commanding in the line out and was a calming influence who gave us a steady flow of possession.”

Wales international scrum half, Tomos Williams, took over the kicking duties in Priestland and Evans’ absence and also impressed with his playmaking abilities from the bench, providing assists for Willis Halaholo and Owen Lane.

Young praised the academy product for his natural ability as a rugby player and hopes he can continue to build momentum.

“If you look at our tries, he had a hand in most of them. He oozing with talent, and we know that.

“There’s lots of good nines about, but anyone who’s in front of him must be some sort of player.

“He’s very similar to Laney, because he’s got injured at the wrong times. Every time he’s gone into camp he’s picked up an injury, either just before or right at the start.

“But he’s another who worked hard in pre-season, not only on his fitness but also his prehab, trying to bulletproof himself.

“If he can stay on the field, the sky is the limit for him.

“To be fair to him, he’s always kicking [from the tee] and he’s probably getting a row for doing it, because he’s got other things he needs to do.

“But when you’ve got three 10s in the club, considering you have Tovs as well, you don’t expect you’d need your nine to step up.

“But he looked so confident. He’s just a talented rugby player.

“He’s one of those people that gets on your nerves because whatever he puts his hand to, he’s just good at it. “

As a former prop, the ex Wales international also kept a close eye on his side’s scrummaging, and while he was pleased to see an improvement at set piece as the game went on, Young insists they must be better in this aspect moving forward.

The director of rugby added: “We’ve got to take the scrum away. We can debate penalties and whether or not we agree with them, but we must be better.

“We need to be in a position where we’re dominant and are making it obvious to everyone. 

“If it’s not an obvious advantage, that’s when you start to win some and lose some.

“But the whole forward pack got better as the game went on. We weren’t great set piece-wise, especially in the first 20 minutes, but as the game went on we got stronger and better.”