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Mulvihill encouraged by first pre-season outing

11th August 2018

John Mulvihill believes there were plenty of positives for his side, despite falling to a dramatic pre-season defeat to Leicester Tigers on Saturday.

Joe Ford’s last gasp penalty sealed victory for the visitors in Mulvihill’s first game in charge of Wales’ Capital Region.

But the Australian insists the performance was the most important aspect of the clash, and he was left encouraged by the signs on show at the Arms Park.

“I told the boys during the week - I don’t care what the score was, whether we won or lost, I just wanted to get our season started and then we can look at areas where we can get better, leading into Exeter next week,” said Mulvihill.

“As I told the players today, I don’t want them to have any regrets. Whether you play 40 minutes or 80 minutes, you have to give it your best, and don’t look back afterwards, and wonder what could’ve been. They’re all auditioning for positions and that will go on again next week.

“For the last 53 minutes, we won the game 15-3. We started to go back to our strengths, so it was good to get started and see these boys live.

“I thought our scrum was really good. It was dominant throughout the whole game. Our line-out was creaky early on, but we fought back into that and probably won the line-out battle as well.

“On the defensive side of things, we were good and we had eight jackals, so we know some of our systems have been working well. 

“I want us to challenge for every piece of possession, every ball and every inch we can play. We won’t always kick the ball long, and chase. We’ll compete for every possession whether that’s out of the hand or off the foot.

“I want them to understand that we’ll be in the game. We were down by 14 points today, and had a lot of young boys out there. They easily could’ve dropped their heads, but they didn’t, cause they know it’s important for us to hang in there.

“I will prepare a team every week to win. That might not happen, but we need to make sure that in every game, our team’s heads are in the contest and if they are we will win more than we lose.”

Cardiff Blues will host defending champions, Leinster, in the opening Guinness PRO14 fixture of the season on Friday, August 31.

However, they have one final pre-season clash against Exeter Chiefs next week, and Mulvihill expects to welcome more players back into contention for the Sandy Park encounter.

The head coach said: “We’ll have some changes for next week, and with only two friendly games, it was important to give guys an opportunity in this game.  

“It could be a completely different team next week as we have a lot of boys coming back, whether that’s from injury or international duty. I’d like to think a lot of those guys will get game-time next week.”