Dai Young has warned Cardiff that they can be nothing short of their best for their BKT United Rugby Championship Boxing Day derby at Rodney Parade.
The Blue and Blacks face the Dragons in the first of three consecutive Welsh derbies over the festive period.
His side also face the Ospreys (Jan 1) and Scarlets (Jan 7) at the Arms Park but with the immediate focus on East Wales, Young knows his side can take nothing for granted against a resurgent Dragons.
While Cardiff are targeting a 15th consecutive URC victory over the Dragons but the Newport-club are also the Blue and Blacks nearest rivals in the Welsh Shield.
Young said: “People keep mentioning it (the record) but it’s probably more of a motivation for the Dragons, certainly not us. I thought we were good for the win at home earlier this year but last season they were the better team and we scraped wins.
“There’s not much between the teams, we’ve rode our luck on occasions and at some point that record is going to go.
“Hopefully it won’t be this weekend but we’re concentrating more on ourselves and things we’ve done well. We want to bring those things into the game that have helped us have good performances and results while obviously looking at the Dragons, where they can cause us problems and where we can cause them problems.
“The games we have played in recent years have all been really close. We were worthy winners at the start of the season but last year it was more they had lost the games rather than we won them.
“I have huge respect for the Dragons, Dai (Flanagan) is a fantastic coach and he’s showing that. He did his apprenticeship with the Scarlets over the last couple of seasons, he deserved the opportunity and he’s taken them to heights where any team would fear playing them.
“Dean needs to be commended as well on the squad he has put together. It’s the best squad have had in a long time and Dai has come in with the positivity which has helped to bring them all together. They look like a team that can threaten anybody.”
Cardiff return to URC action as the top placed Welsh club, six points clear of the Dragons, and on the back of two bonus-point wins in the European Challenge Cup.
That has seen confidence and momentum build but Young is acutely aware that Boxing Day will present an even more physical and intense challenge.
He added: “It’s much better preparing through the week on the back of wins. Everyone has a smile on their face and it puts a bit of a spring in your step but respectful of Newcastle and Brive, we didn’t play their best teams.
“We are not running away with ourselves, we know there’s three massive challenges coming up. We can’t look past the Dragons and we know it’s going to be a big step up and a real physical battle.
“Every derby is about physicality, every derby is about winning collisions, every derby is about set-piece and outside of that a bit of rugby can break out.
“We have to keep looking to improve individually and collectively because there’s lots of good teams out there and the Dragons are a team that can put us to the sword if we’re not at our best.”
Tickets for Cardiff’s Arms Park derbies against Ospreys (3pm on New Year’s Day) and Scarlets (January 7, 5.15pm) are available now but selling fast. To secure your tickets click here.