Richard Hodges has called on Cardiff Blues to complete their current block of fixtures with a fourth consecutive win after they displayed an abundance of defensive steel against Zebre.
The Blues led 10-7 at half-time thanks to a stunning try from Owen Lane and the boot of Jarrod Evans but they spent the majority of the second-half defending.
Zebre dominated both territory and possession but the Blues defence was virtually impenetrable, while the back-row of man-of-the-match Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins and Josh Turnbull caused chaos at the breakdown.
Hodges, who specialises in defence, was thrilled with that part of the performance but has quickly adjusted the collective focus to Friday’s clash with Benetton Treviso at the Arms Park.
He said: “The scoreboard makes for pretty reading from a defensive angle. One try from an intercept away from home in this league is something the boys should be pretty proud of.
“It wasn’t perfect, there were a couple of soft sets across the game but the key thing today was the defensive contact area. We have come away there with eight or nine jackals, four choke ball turnovers as well and that kept us in the game.”
The Blues remain fourth in Conference A but have now opened up a five-point cushion above Connacht and have cut Toyota Cheetahs lead in third to just six points from 20 three rounds ago.
Hodges continued: “We’ve put this block of four games down as the period which will define our season so to go three out of three is great.
“The priority is now going into Treviso, with a short turnaround and one training day, to finish the block four out of four and that will put us in a really good place aiming for Champions Cup qualification.
“All you can ask is that at this time of year there is something on every game. With Europe and the Edinburgh game on the horizon and the Treviso game on Friday we are putting ourselves in the mix and there’s some real big games coming up.
“The Cheetahs have had three games and three losses away from home and we’ve been able to reel them in, we’re probably one win behind them now and we have to go out there to play them.”