High heart rates and shifting mentalities

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It was a busy weekend for rugby fans in Wales last weekend, as regional rugby returned with the start of the Guinness Pro14 and the national team continued their Rugby World Cup campaign against Australia.

Ultimately for supporters of Cardiff Blues and Wales it was a successful one, with the former mounting a second half comeback to beat the Southern Kings, while the latter held off a second half comeback to overcome the Wallabies.

The cost of both was high on those of us watching on television though. With both teams just about clinging on it has been reported that the amount of blood pressure reducing medication subscribed across Cardiff and the surrounding area actually doubled on Monday morning.

It signals that the rugby season is well and truly back, and the stress that comes with it has also returned, but that winning feeling never gets old no matter how the teams eventually get there.

More than that though, it hopefully signals a shift in mentality for both teams.

Olly Robinson Southern Kings
The Cardiff Blues win was a test of heart rates

For Wales the win was important for two reasons. Firstly, it’s another win over one of the ‘big three’ Southern Hemisphere teams which have been few and far between in the Warren Gatland era.

Just seven wins in 12 years have been a blight on the record of the head coach as he comes towards the end of his time in charge, but winning against Australia on a big stage at a neutral venue will be a huge psychological boost for the squad over the next few weeks.

Secondly, it proves that Wales do have the ability to hold on to a lead against the big teams, a quality we haven’t always enjoyed, losing a number of games late on despite being the better side for large parts of the match.

Soaking up the pressure we were under for large parts of the game, and then managing to swing the momentum of proceedings with crucial plays in the dying moments, should fill the squad with confidence that they can win when it matters most.

Rhys Patchell Australia
Rhys Patchell’s boot helped Wales to victory

 

Cardiff Blues, on the other hand, should be pleased with the manner in which we recovered from a half-time deficit to not only come back and win the game against the Southern Kings, but secure a try bonus point in the process.

Previously we have seen too many games like the one we witnessed on Saturday where Wales’ Capital Region would have faltered at some point and been left to rue not being able to take a win home.

There was a lot going against the team at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, some within our control and some outside, with three yellow cards being shown to Cardiff Blues players and a lineout that was so wayward it was almost comical, amongst them.

However, there was some attacking incision in the second half that the Kings struggled to live with at times, and plenty of good defensive work that came them at bay when earlier tries might have built up the pressure further later in the game.

Eventually Cardiff Blues did take a lead, and like Wales, worked hard to hold on to it in the dying minutes.

That win was the first on an opening day in the league for three years, and casting our minds back 12 months to fixtures out in Italy, is certainly a game that we could well have lost previously.

Hopefully these shifts in mentalities continue over the next few weeks, and beyond for in Cardiff Blues’ case, as both sides move away from being perennial losers in certain situations, and develop that winning mindset.

If that happens, then special things could be on the horizon for both sides.

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