Macauley Cook insists Cardiff Blues have turned a corner after picking up five wins in the last seven fixtures in all competitions.
It was a tough start to the campaign for Danny Wilson’s side, as they lost the opening three games of the season, but Wales’ Capital Region have bounced back in style, and finished the first block of games with a convincing bonus point win over Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.
Cook, who has featured eight times for the Blues this season, was delighted to see his side bounce back from last week’s derby loss to Scarlets, and hopes they can pick up where they left off when they host Connacht in the PRO14 later in the month, following two weeks of Anglo-Welsh Cup action.
“We beat Dragons before the European block, and we’ve got four wins in the last five games, and I feel like we’ve turned a corner,” said the former Wales U20s captain.
“We’re happy with the result [against Zebre]. Obviously we were disappointed last week with our performance, where we chased the game a lot after giving them some early points.
“We spoke all week about what Zebre were going to bring, they’re a different team compared to last year, and they certainly were today.
“They tried to throw the ball about, but it was a great performance by us, especially in the first half where we were quite ruthless, I thought.
“We came out for the second half, didn’t take our foot off the gas and came away with the bonus point, which is very pleasing.
“There’s still some key players to come back, but hopefully now going into the Anglo-Welsh Cup block some young boys can have a good shot at it and then we’ll be back at it and try to get the results.”
Cardiff Blues captain, Gethin Jenkins, made a return from injury on Saturday, which kept him out of action since April, and featured in the front row alongside fellow experienced teammates, Matthew Rees and Taufa’ao Filise.
Cook believes the experience and leadership qualities of these players was instrumental in securing victory on Saturday.
Cook said: “We’re working hard in training and have some senior boys back, so there’s experience there. I think the average age was mid-30s in the front row!
“But they certainly showed well for us with their experience, especially in the first half, and it’s good to have those back and it’s definitely helping us.
“I don’t like to give him [Gethin Jenkins] too much praise, but he is massive for us. He makes a massive difference.
“His leadership is obviously outstanding, with so many caps and experience behind him, but he also he leads by example.
“He’s 36 years old and when you run up in a defensive line and see him sprinting past you to make a big hit, it definitely gets the boys going.
“I think there was a few good performances from the senior players, and we’re really happy to get the result”