A week to define a season

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It’s not entirely unfair to suggest that this week is the biggest in John Mulvihill’s short era at Cardiff Blues. It will define his first season in charge.

Since losing to Ospreys in the first game of the calendar year, his squad have worked hard to keep themselves firmly in the battle for the Guinness Pro14 Conference A play-offs, winning four from five games before last weekend.

The hard fought home win over Connacht kicked it off, before the comeback victory over Edinburgh up in Scotland and the home annihilation of Scarlets were particular highlights, with the regulation bonus point beating of Kings and a valiant two losing bonus points from Glasgow coming in between.

It meant that as of Friday morning just eight points separated ourselves and the team from Galway in the race for third with three games of the season left to play.

Unfortunately, not taking anything from the loss away at Munster, when a try bonus point was certainly there to be claimed, has conspired against us with Connacht scraping past Zebre thanks to a 5-6 scoreline in Italy.

That now means that even beating Andy Friend’s side on Saturday afternoon does not guarantee that we can go to Judgement Day with our destiny in our own hands.

Aled Summerhill Scarlets
The win over Scarlets has put us in a great position

We would need to stop Connacht getting any bonus points, or score a bonus point of our own if they did, just to get on level points, and with the Irish team now sporting a +87 points difference compared to our +56, it’s a swing of 16 points required to secure superiority in that respect.

However, winning is what we have to do as a minimum, as without it we allow the home side at the Sportsground to secure that third play-off spot in Conference A, and watch our chances of improving on last year’s fourth place finish slip away.

There have been an obvious continuation of last season’s superb team culture at times in this campaign, coming together to beat Connacht at home, the comeback in Edinburgh, and even withstanding a barrage from Munster for a good hour, scoring three tries in the process.

If a few key players, like Dmitri Arhip, Nick Williams and Jarrod Evans return it will be a huge boost for Saturday, but even without them we will be able to compete with a Connacht team not quite on the same level physically as Munster.

It’s a cliched ‘Cup Final’ for Cardiff Blues on Saturday, and while there are many off-the-field issues that could be written about, it’s all focus on the playing action this week. Other things can wait.

A massive week of training and then backing ourselves to deliver in Galway, as we did last time we traveled to the West of Ireland. Come on Cardiff!

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