Hodges keen to move on from Newcastle thumping

Date published: November 14 2017

Richard Hodges insists Friday's derby clash against Ospreys is the perfect opportunity for his side to bounce back from Saturday's heavy defeat to Newcastle Falcons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Despite a scoreless opening quarter, a strong Newcastle side, containing experienced internationals such as Josh Matavesi, Mark Wilson, Maxime Mermoz and Sinoti Sinoti, ran in nine tries on the evening to secure a 57-0 victory.

Hodges was encouraged by his side's performance in the opening 20 minutes of the game, but insists the young Cardiff Blues players must learn from the harsh realities of the convincing defeat.

"We've got Ospreys on Friday night, a local derby at home, and I think that will be a very competitive and close encounter," said Hodges.

"We need to learn our lessons and be a much better version of ourselves on Friday night.

"It's the one you'd like to have, back at our place, and with some more boys coming back to get some rugby and reward some of the boys for their performances tonight, and conversely some boys who have shown that this is a step too far at this stage of their careers.

"It was disappointing in a lot of aspects, if I'm being honest, but what did please me the most was the way we started the game.

"0-0 after 20 minutes, we really had a foothold. Our attacking sets, defence sets, kick chase, kick-offs, everything was going really well.

"The brutal reality is that we've gone up against their first team who are flying high in the Aviva Premiership and we weren't able to cope with the level of performance that they brought.

"There is a bigger picture at play in terms of this competition. The English sides use week two to play their first team, ready to go back into the Premiership next week, and we were not able to cope in many aspects of the game.

"Newcastle deserve a lot of credit but to come up here and not even trouble the scoreboard is hugely disappointing."

The Cardiff Blues squad contained 16 players younger than 25-years-old, including 18-year-old back, Ben Thomas, who made his debut for the region from the bench.

The team were dealt a couple of injury blows with Jack Roberts and Dan Fish forced off the field during the game.

Hodges recognises it was a big step up for some of the younger players in tough conditions, as they attempted to adapt their gameplan to deal with the key injuries suffered.

Hodges said: "If you look at the boys who came on to make their debuts tonight, having come straight out of the Principality Premiership, going against seasoned internationals, it's a big step up and a big ask.

"Some boys really didn't give up and really kept working hard, and we know a lot more about some of these boys on our pathway than we did two hours ago and we roll into a derby on Friday night to continue that process.

"I'm not going to shy away from it and some aspect of our game we didn't get our game going and our footprint into it. In the first 20 minutes we did. 

"Some of the boys who came down from the first team, like George Earle and James Down, worked very hard for us this evening and gives them more match fitness to press their claims for the Connacht game.

"I've been impressed with Ben Thomas ever since the South Africa tour with Wales over the summer, but it's a measure of tonight that he's ended up playing centre, wing, full-back and outside half, and that's the patchwork we were left with in terms of trying to cover the injuries we've had.

"Ben impressed tonight, I thought he went well, and hopefully he's someone who will have a good future in a Blues shirt.

"We can't get Jack going at the moment, ever since London Scottish in pre-season, then he got injured in the first 10 minutes at Munster and the first five minutes here.

"We lost a couple of boys with some injuries and that's the collision and physicality that these Premiership sides bring."

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