Cardiff Blues have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the Play-Offs but that doesn’t mean their Everest is insurmountable.
The Welsh capital outfit are battling for a Play-Off spot but head coach Dai Young admits his side are now firmly behind the eight ball when it comes to making the top four.
The Blues were beaten 16-15 at home by Munster on Friday night and Young believes five wins from five games is now a must for his men.
“With six games left, I said we had to win five. We’ve lost this one so it’s quite simple really,” said Young.
“Obviously things can change with other teams winning or losing but, from our point of view, we’ve got to win the five games we’ve got left, otherwise we’re relying on other people to do us favours.”
The Blues have been in or around the Play-Off places all season, sitting as high as second and being tipped to earn a home semi-final earlier in the year.
They currently lie five points behind Leinster, Ulster and the Ospreys who occupy the final three semi-final spots, although the Blues do have a game in hand on all four sides above them in the table.
Young’s men face a tough run in, with only one of their remaining games at home and the former Wale and Lions prop is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge that lies ahead.
“We’ve left ourselves a lot to do now. We’ve got a game in hand but the game in hand is only any good if you win it,” added Young.
“I said a few weeks ago, even when we were lying second, that we’ve got a big mountain to climb.
“We let ourselves down here when we lost to the Scarlets, and when we lost to Ulster here which put us under a lot of pressure, and again now. If you lose your home games, you’ve obviously got to make up points away from home and any win away from home is a difficult one to get.
“I thought with eight games left, looking at the points and who teams were playing, that realistically we could lose two games. Winning six out of eight would be good enough to get us into the Play-Offs. In which position, who knows, but I felt it would be enough to get us into the Play-Offs.
“We’ve lost our two games so it’s all to do now. That’s not saying that teams aren’t going to do us favours and that other teams aren’t going to drop points but I’m a big believer that you’ve got to control what you can control.
“If we can win the five win games that we’ve got left, as tough as that sounds, I think that would be enough. But if we lose any games along the way, we are relying on other teams then to drop points.”
The Blues travel to bitter rivals the Ospreys this weekend
Next on the agenda for the Blues is the trip to the Ospreys – a journey short in distance but huge in terms of the impact it could have on the race for the Play-Offs.
The reverse fixture produced a real thriller in front of a bumper crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium on New Year’s Eve and Saturday’s clash in Swansea is expected to result in more of the same.
Following on from that, the Blues head to Connacht before hosting Treviso and then traveling to local rivals the Dragons and the Scarlets.
“Going to the Ospreys will focus their minds. And we know where we are – we know we’ve got to win the five games…and we’ve got play better.
“Make no bones about it, very few teams go to the Ospreys and win. So we know how difficult that’s going to be, but we’re going to have to do it. If we want to get into these Play-Offs, that’s what we’ve got to do.
“We’ve got three Welsh derbies and they’re always difficult to win no matter where they are. Every game is a Cup Final. We’ve got to go to these places and win.
“It’s a big mountain for us to climb. We’re capable of it and that’s what I’ve said to the players. But we’re going to have to be better than we were – it’s as simple as that.”
Prior to the start of the season and following on from last term’s Amlin Challenge Cup triumph, the Blues were tipped as serious contenders for a first-ever Celtic Crown.
And while that achievement remains within their sights, especially with the introduction of the Play-Off system, Young admits that the fifth-placed Blues are unfortunately where they deserve to be.
“We all know that, on our day, we’re a very difficult team to beat. When it gets to one off games, things could go either way.
“But if you look at the top six, that’s pretty much right across the board. Every team in that top six is a quality team and anyone of them could go all the way.
“The League doesn’t lie. The best four squads in the Magners League will be the ones that are in the Play-Offs. It’s not by accident, it’s not by mistake. Those people deserve to be there.”