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Cardiff out to back up heroics against bolstered Bulls

REACTION: Cardiff boss Dai Young says his team need to back up their “outstanding” United Rugby Championship victory away to the Sharks when they take on the high-flying Bulls on Saturday.

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The visitors from the Arms Park became the first Welsh side to win a URC game out in South Africa as they performed a 35-0 Durban demolition job in arguably the result of the season so far in the league.

Now they head up to Pretoria for a Loftus Versfeld encounter with the Bulls, who lie third in the table, having run in seven tries in beating the Ospreys 43-26 on the weekend. Springboks Johan Goosen, Canan Moodie and Marco van Staden were all spotted at the Bulls’ training session on Monday.

Reflecting on his team’s landmark triumph at a rain-lashed Kings Park Stadium, director of rugby Young said: “Make no bones about it, the conditions obviously suited us more than they suited the Sharks. We put a special order in for Welsh weather and South Africa obliged!

“But we knew we had to have a good start. If you lose the first 25 minutes out here and they get a couple of scores in front of you, they have got too much power up front and will just starve you of possession.

“With the quality the Sharks have got in their team, if you give them field position and plenty of possession, you are going to come unstuck and it becomes a very big mountain to climb. So it was hugely important we got our noses in front and I thought we controlled the first 25 minutes really well, with kick pressure, field position and a few turnovers.

“Tactically, we played the conditions really well, got a lead and made the Sharks have to chase the game – and the weather wasn’t conducive to chasing the game. It was always going to be a night where if you got your noses in front it was going to be hard for the opposition to turn it round. Those first 25 minutes put us into the ascendancy and won us the game.”

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The scale of the triumph is demonstrated by the fact that no home side has been denied a single point at Kings Park since England beat Natal 19-0 there in May 1972.

Young said: “Because we got ourselves a good lead, it forced the Sharks into playing a bit more. There were a couple of kickable penalties that could have got the scoreboard ticking over for them.

“So I am not bigging up too much that we nilled them, but the important thing for us was we went out and delivered tactically and mentally and I thought it was an excellent win.”

It was all a very different story from Cardiff’s last URC game in South Africa back in March when they were routed 40-3 by the Stormers in Cape Town.

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“We came out here last season and put in a pretty decent performance against the Lions, where it just got away from us, but then we played against the Stormers and they were on a completely different level than us,” said Young.

“We had a good thumping that night and we had talked about trying to put that right coming back out here. We want to be competitive against every team we play and we have got a huge respect for South African rugby.

“I said to the players we had to be eight out of ten mentally, we had to be first to close any space down, any 50-50 balls we had to be on our feet first and you couldn’t ask any more of the players. They were outstanding. I thought we thoroughly deserved that win and I’m really proud of the players. We were excellent.”

Young’s son, flank Thomas Young, who came on board from Wasps earlier this year, touched down twice and also earned a penalty try with a superb kick-and-chase from his own half.

“He has fitted in really well,” said Dai Young. “He finished as the highest try-scoring forward ever in Wasps’ history and that’s an achievement in itself when you look at the players they have had, the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio and Joe Worsley.

“He’s certainly got a knack for the try line and I thought he played really well, but he was just one of 14 starters that played really well and then we were really pleased with the impetus the bench brought on as well.”

Looking ahead, former Wales and Lions prop Young said: “One caution is, going to the Bulls, they are going to be right up for that game, so we have got to back it up.”

Echoing these comments, back row James Botham said: “There’s always more you can do. You can have the best result you’ve ever had, but there’s always little work-ons and that’s for the coaches to sit down, review the game, see what those work-ons are and go from there.

“We have had lots of ups and downs over the past couple of seasons, but now the boys are working for each other and it’s great to see the kind of results we can get. Any team travelling to South Africa will take a result like that. We went in with a game-plan and stuck by it, so credit to the boys and the coaching staff.”

Flyhalf Jarrod Evans, who landed five shots at goal, added: “The two main things we focused on were effort and discipline. Our forwards were outstanding and our nine, Lloyd [Williams], really put the game back on them.

“Obviously, the weather is similar to what we get back home and I thought we played the conditions very well, but I feel we have got more to our game as well. It’s a great foundation. Not many teams come out here and get any points, let alone picking up five, so we are really happy with the performance and it’s something we can build on going into the Bulls next weekend.”

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