As one

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Cardiff Blues returned to winning ways on Saturday evening as Cheetahs were defeated at the Arms Park, as the Guinness Pro14 breaks for European action over the next two weekends.

It brings to an end a four-game losing streak that has threatened to derail the season before it has even properly begun, but more than that it has threatened to cause bad blood to appear at the Arms Park.

Now, I don’t speak of the criticism of those in senior management. That is something that has only coincided with the downturn in form, and a win on the field does not remove the requirement for Richard Holland and Alun Jones to step up to the plate when it comes to leading Cardiff Blues, and communicating with supporters.

The push for them to engage will continue, but there is a certain separation between that and what takes place on the field, and it is in this respect that divides are understandable but must now be overcome as we look to build forwards.

Losing streaks bring out strong feelings, as do home losses, especially in the manner of last week’s defeat at the hands of Munster which exacerbated by the cold and the rain makes being anything other than negative very difficult.

Supporters have a right to voice their opinion. That is something that should never be taken away from us. Players and coaches must understand that we put a lot of time, money and emotion into supporting our team and that as a result things will be said that perhaps don’t necessarily want to be heard.

However, supporters should also remember that players and coaches are human too, and this is something that I am guilty of when it comes to heat of the moment tweets. Nobody heads out onto the field on a weekend to purposely lose, or not try their best. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that shouldn’t open up anyone to personal criticism.

The injury to Cardiff RFC’s Barney Nightingale last week serves as a reminder that players on the field put their bodies and health on the line for the jersey, and that should never be taken for granted.

Barney Nightingale Llanelli RFC
Barney Nightingale suffered a seizure at the Arms Park on Friday

That’s not to say that supporters should just be cheerleaders, far from it, but criticism should come in a measured way and put to one side on game day, which is where this piece ends on a positive note.

I thought an attendance of 5,600 last night was very good considering the four losses in a row, fairly poor weather and the fact that the game was live on free-to-air S4C, as well as the lack of draw that Cheetahs bring in these still early days of South African involvement in the Pro14.

More than that I thought there was a good atmosphere generated to get behind the boys, and they more than played their part with a committed performance to get that crucial win.

The game itself will be broken down in the coming days, but don’t underestimate the psychological barrier that needed to be overcome by Cardiff Blues, which in many ways would have been heightened by the pressure of securing victory against 14 men.

For now though it’s onwards and upwards, with supporters and players driving each other on as we get into Challenge Cup competition ahead of the all-important Welsh derbies over Christmas.

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