Danny Wilson has often spoken of his desire to make Cardiff Arms Park a fortress and build from there. With nine Pro12 wins from 14 games in 2016 we are well on the way to making our home a tough place to visit, but there’s also been an upturn of form on the road.
Throughout 2016 there’s been nine league matches away from home, and with five wins that is our best record in a calendar year since 2011. With some particularly impressive performances, as well as one or two narrowly lost matches, there’s scope to continue picking up points as we come towards the end of Danny Wilson’s initial three year plan.
The record of away games over the past few years have been pretty poor at times. From two away wins in 2013 to just a solitary victory on the road last year it’s been a massive issue with no momentum being able to be built up as any steps forward being taken at CAP are then taken back as soon as the team leave the comforts of Cardiff.
This last year though we’ve seen a marked improvement. It started towards the back end of 2015/16 season with a fantastic victory away at Llanelli, followed up by a comeback win over Edinburgh on the last day of the season.
Following that the form continued into the new season, starting with a mightily impressive 23-24 win away at Munster, a feat rarely achieved by any side let alone Cardiff, before a record was finally broken against our long term bogey side Zebre with a narrow win in Italy.
Another tricky away trip to Italy was manoeuvred at the start of November with a 28-34 win in Treviso, yet another close one, giving us a grand total of 21 league points on the road this year from a possible 45, including try bonus points.
Of the away games that haven’t gone quite so well this year, there’s still hope for the future. A loss at Treviso started the year on the road, before it finished there with a win, however from now on you have to expect Cardiff to win those games as we move back towards the summit of the table. Especially with it taking place during the Six Nations last season when our backup players were of little quality.
Then there was a narrow seven-point loss to Glasgow, which was largely down to a shockingly slow start leaving us 20-0 behind at half-time. Having won the second half 7-20 there is obvious scope to improve on that if the team visiting in 2017 can actually play for the full 80 minutes.
Finally there was the recent 18-7 defeat by Connacht in Galway which was massively dominated by almost continuous Cardiff mistakes. In fact, the 46-24 thrashing away at Ospreys aside, the losses on the road have all come down to little errors that are easily fixable and that I am confident will be rectified as Danny Wilson takes us into the new year.
With six away games coming before the end of this season it would be a massive help to take the pressure off home form if a few extra points on the road, and a good place to start would be in Llanelli and Glasgow during the opening two games of 2017.
It’s also an excellent reward for the incredibly dedicated Cardiff Blues fans that travel around Europe supporting the boys. A reminder to the club that they would be nothing without the fans.