Cardiff Blues A coach T Rhys Thomas was “unbelievably proud” of his side’s performance in the win over Dragons A at Ystrad Mynach on Wednesday.
The former Cardiff Blues and Wales hooker led the team alongside Gruff Rees and Dan Fish, with tries from Harri Millard and Ellis Bevan enough to clinch victory in the wet and windy conditions.
The side contained a mix of younger academy players, Indigo Group Premiership players and members of the Cardiff Blues senior squad who needed game time, having not featured in the opening three rounds of Guinness PRO14 action.
While the result was pleasing, Thomas insists the performance was the priority for his side, and he was delighted with the maturity shown by some of his younger players, with some having their first taste of Cardiff Blues A action.
“I’m unbelievably proud, really. With the injuries the senior team have had, and the way they rightfully took a couple of boys from this A team, all a coach can ask for is passion and pride for the jersey,” said the academy coach.
“There are some younger academy boys in there who stepped up against men today, and the Premiership boys who stepped in have done what they do in the Prem, but at the next level up.
“I’m real proud. This Dragons team have been together for a while and they’re organised and well-coached. So to come up here and get the win is a credit to all the players.
“The likes of Rhys Anstey and Alex Mann stepped up and done really well in this environment.
“You want to ask questions of these boys, and Ben Warren was another who stood up and it’s a credit to those boys and their preparations.
“Teddy needs to take a lot of credit for our set piece today, as do the front row. The way we’ve gone about it is give these boys a lot of ownership.
“We came up with a plan, and because we only had a couple of days together it wasn’t as deep as we would’ve liked. There will be improvements and stuff to work on but overall they should be proud of their performance.
Thomas believes the players involved will benefit from the competitive action and insists a number of players will have put themselves in the running for action with the senior side in the coming weeks.
The former Wales international added: “We can all say that we want to win, and I’d probably say I want to win just as much, if not more, than anyone.
“But the main thing today was the boys who have just been under the senior team to have a proper hit-out, especially without any Celtic Cup, Premiership, academy or age grade games being played.
“It was really important for that group of players to have a proper hit out. Bone on bone. I think we got that today.
“A bit of competition in the set piece was also involved in that, and playing for Cardiff Blues is the main thing and is a bonus for them.
“We get tested every week, and the senior coaches have asked for a few boys to come in, who they might not have asked for before. So it’s worked well.
“It’s worked well for the players and coaches. I’ve also really enjoyed working with Gruff Rees and Dan Fish and all the conditioners, so it’s also been great for us coaches to have something at the end of the week to get a buzz and a feel from a game.”