By Sion Ford
What a difference a few weeks make. Back to back wins in the league, and now an away win against Lyon in their first European venture for five years, things are really starting to cook for the Blues.
As moments that define a season go, Sunday’s win will definitely finish as one of the top ones for John Mulvihill and co this year – having looked like they were on the edge of a hiding, it was a fantastic effort to pull the game back and nearly finish it with a bonus point.
If it hadn’t been for the exceptional efforts of the back row of Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins and Josh Navidi (along with some notable contributions from Dillon Lewis), the game may well have taken a different shape. To see that the Blues have not lost anything in the department of winning turnovers and spoiling the opposition’s ball since Danny Wilson left is very encouraging. As is the Blues’ ability to keep a hold of themselves when they seem to be up against it.
For too long, fans would have gotten used to the sight of a Blues game going out the window after some pressure had been applied by the opposition. Heads would go down, players would slip off tackles, and you could feel the capitulation coming. Now, though, there’s few instances where the Blues don’t compete or look to be out of their depth, and in those rare moments where they have, there’s been a resolve to hang on in there.
Any player will tell you that you’re only as good as you’re next game, and Sunday’s encounter with Glasgow will prove to be the yardstick for this squad and their ambitions in the Champions Cup. If the Blues can secure a win at home against the Warriors, then that puts them into a commanding position within their group before a return to Pro14 action.
They then face Saracens in a home-and-away double header in December; again, the hope there has to be that they can get something out of the home fixture. As ominous an opponent as Saracens may be, they can take strength from the fact that both the Scarlets and the Ospreys have frustrated and pushed Saracens in their respective encounters over the past two seasons.
But before we end up getting ahead of ourselves, Glasgow are the focus. Though they’ve been misfiring – going down to the inept Southern Kings earlier in the season and losing – they are still a team that knows their way to the try line. In some sense, this might prove to be a bigger game than Lyon was for the Blues’ European campaign because, quite simply, you have to win your home games.
Glasgow will come to the Arms Park looking for a fight, having been beaten under some questionable circumstances by Saracens. It will likely be a tense, physical affair, but if the Blues can rally themselves as they have done this season, then there’s nothing to stop them from picking up another crucial win in this group stage.