By Simon Thomas
Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt has paid tribute to his region’s Wales World Cup contingent for returning to action sooner than expected.
Tomos Williams, Corey Dowachowski and Mason Grady all offered their services and proceeded to play their part in Cardiff’s 16-9 victory over the Dragons at a wet and windy Rodney Parade last weekend.
Centre Grady scored the only try of the game as Cardiff recorded a 17th successive league win over their east Wales rivals, while scrum-half Williams brought tactical control and prop Dowachowski delivered his power up front.
“I have got to credit them. They brought themselves back,” said Sherratt.
“To a man, they phoned me and said they were desperate to play for the club which is testament to them and obviously they had a big impact on the game. So I can’t thank those boys enough.
“For me, it’s all about players wanting to represent Cardiff. That’s been a big push, that there’s some pride in representing a club with massive history.”
📽️ Match reaction
“Cardiff’s a pretty good environment at the moment and we enjoy being here so we're quite happy to come in and help the boys." pic.twitter.com/6zdzOWgJGp
— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) October 30, 2023
South African fly-half Tinus de Beer landed four shots at goal as Sherratt’s team bounced back from a last gasp defeat at home to Benetton in Round 1.
“We have had two fairly opposite weekends,” said Sherratt.
“One where we’ve lost in the last play of the game and one where we’ve managed to get over the line.
“I didn’t get too excited last week with a loss because you can’t control a couple of actions and it’s the same this week.
“There’s loads to work on, we can get much better, but we’ve got a win, which is great.
“It was job done, a really gritty win and a great learning experience for our young boys to feel what it’s like to win a derby in a Cardiff shirt.”
🎙️ "It's an absolute gift for Cardiff!"
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) October 29, 2023
Dragons coach Dai Flanagan admitted the long losing run against the men from the Arms Park does build pressure.
“Everything you see, everything you read, every conversation is how many we’ve lost on the bounce to Cardiff,” he said.
“That’s going to be there until we win and sometimes it’s better not to know that and freshen it up.
“We turn up to games now with a perceived pressure on ourselves. We should be turning up with excitement.
“The constant messaging will cloud people’s decisions when they are in that pressure moment and we’ve got to find a way of freeing ourselves up because it doesn’t get easier. We have got Munster and Leinster next and we know how good they are.”
He added: “The players were outstanding effort-wise and we almost found a way, but we have got to stop being the almost team.”
As for the other Welsh sides, the Ospreys came from behind at home to Zebre to win 34-31, despite being outscored by five tries to four, while the Scarlets suffered a second heavy defeat in South Africa, going down 52-7 at the hands of the table-topping DHL Stormers in Stellenbosch.
— Ioan Dyer (@Ioan_Dyer) October 29, 2023