By Paul Jones
John Mulvihill is demanding his Cardiff Blues team start the new rugby season in the same way they ended the current one.
The Blues coach saw his region end a fractured, disrupted campaign by overcoming the Ospreys 29-20 at borrowed Rodney Parade in their final match of the Guinness Pro 14 on Sunday.
The victory left the Blues with a record of seven wins and eight defeats from their 15 games, spread over the course of 11 months – not great, but nowhere near as poor as the Ospreys, for whom Sunday’s defeat was their 11th, with just a couple of victories and two draws.
Now, Mulvihill is looking towards the next campaign – scheduled to begin in early October – and a better start than the region managed a year ago.
“The boys will have a week off now and then we’ll get back into preparations,” said Mulvihill.
“Hopefully in the next week we’ll find out how the competition will pan out and what teams are in it.
“We just have to wait and see. Whether it’s PRO12, 14 or 16 – we just want to know what the start date is, who we’re playing and we’ll just get on with it.
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“But for next season, we need to make sure we start better. In my first season, we dropped a few early on and this season was exactly the same.
“We’ll take momentum from this game, have a week off and take that momentum into the preparations before probably heading into another derby.”
Wales wing Josh Adams scored one try and made another for Jason Harries in front of his watching international head coach Wayne Pivac.
Dan Evans and Luke Morgan scored the Ospreys’ tries, but they were let down by their discipline and Blues fly-half Jason Tovey took advantage with a perfect record of two conversions and five penalties.
Mulvilhill praised young back row forwards Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham after the Blues had sealed a season’s double over their Welsh rivals.
“Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham were both immense today. They were awesome. They prepared really well after being very disappointed that they didn’t have a good go last week.
“But they’ve definitely put their hands up. What we saw there today was the sharpness and a little bit of x-factor.
Another cracker on our hands this evening?
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“Both of them haven’t played for five months, but they played 80 minutes today against an international pack and really fronted up physically.”
The Blues’ former Dragons fly-half Tovey said: “We ran with conviction and took our opportunities when they came which was our aim this week.
“It was weird without a crowd but I’ve been at this ground for 10-11 years and know every blade of it.
The Ospreys have suffered the most unsuccessful campaign in their history and head coach Toby Booth admitted: “It was disappointing and you could see the body language of the group at the end.
“It was a bit of a reality check which is never a bad thing.
“We knew we were approaching these two games in a certain way and we would be short in some areas and it came home to roost today.”