By James Skeldon
Dai Young branded the decision to send off Ray Lee-Lo a “harsh” call but still heaped praise on his Cardiff team after they held off the derby challenge of the Dragons.
The club’s director of rugby saw Le-Lo shown a red card for a high tackle on Sam Davies before Cardiff clung on for a 31-29 victory.
It moved them up to seventh spot in the United Rugby Championship, with the Ospreys ahead of them in fifth and both the Scarlets and Dragons in the bottom half of the table.
The home side showed courage to emerge victorious, despite losing the centre after 50 minutes as well as being being dominated in the first quarter.
Samoan international Le-Lo went after referee Ben Whitehouse consulted with his TV match official, having watched replays of the incident where the Cardiff player’s shoulder made contact with Davies’s head.
Young accepted the officiating team were working within the framework to prevent dangerous tackles and said: “Well, it’s one them isn’t it? Some you win, some you lose.
“He’s got a job to do. I thought it was quite harsh but I’m always going to aren’t I?”
Great derby match this evening as @Cardiff_Rugby claim the win over @dragonsrugby pic.twitter.com/dNredhQdsT
— Gareth Everett (@garetheverett) October 23, 2021
Despite Lee Lo’s red card, Cardiff showed impressive resilience to hold off the away team, whilst extending their lead.
Young added: “I think we grew up as a team tonight.
“We discovered a strength in our scrum, and we kept on going there.
“I’m really pleased with the team. We found a weakness in the Dragons’ set piece which we could exploit, and we kept on going there which was really pleasing.”
Cardiff were also forced to adapt with a big change in personnel after losing their Test players this week, as well as being hit with several injury replacements in the first half.
“Obviously it tests you, but we talk about these things in training,” said Young.
“This year we’ve tested a lot of different scenarios out and I thought the boys adjusted pretty well.
Dink ➡️ Chase ➡️ Try ✅
Llloyd Williams and Hallam Amos doing the damage for @Cardiff_Rugby 👊#URC | #CDFDRA pic.twitter.com/pv3CSItj6p
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) October 23, 2021
The most notable change in personnel was Dan Fish being brought out of retirement into the matchday 23 as a replacement.
This was just three days after his announcement that he was calling time on his rugby career. Fish received a huge reception from the home fans.
Young added: “Very rarely can you plan for four or five tens being out but he’s happy to step in there.
“He played on the wing but he covers a lot of positions for us.
“It was great to see him out there in the jersey again.”
Dragons head coach, Dean Ryan admitted to his side’s shortcomings at set piece. He believed that was what kept Cardiff in the game after going down to 14 men.
“It ultimately gave them the space to hide when they went to 14 men,” said Ryan.
Dean Ryan admitted his Dragons team paid the price for their scrum struggles while he also questioned the decisions of referee Ben Whitehousehttps://t.co/RFrLjG7IgM
— The Rodney Roar (@RodneyRoar) October 24, 2021
“We couldn’t get out of it. Because of that pressure we weren’t as accurate as we wanted to be. We know that we can threaten sides, you saw how fast we came out. We’re dangerous irrespective of our internationals being out.
“We also know there’s areas of the game we can be vulnerable. That’s life, isn’t it? You come second sometimes and today we came second.
“It doesn’t derail anything. It’s an area we can compete in and an area we’ve been dominant in but today was one of those days.”
Up next, Cardiff face a trip to South Africa for their next set of fixtures against the Lions and the Stormers whilst the Dragons have a week off to rest up for the upcoming United Rugby Championship tie against Edinburgh in November.