Steff Hughes praised an exceptional performance by Dragons RFC as they defeated Section Paloise in Europe – and then challenged the team to back it up against Emirates Lions on home soil.
Centre Hughes was a key figure as the Men of Gwent took four points from Stade du Hameau to wrestle back total control of the club’s destiny in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
“I’m massively proud,” he said. “Coming away from home to a place like Pau, I thought the effort was exceptional and the character we showed in the game.
“There were times where we played some brilliant stuff, times when they were maybe on top, but we dug in and the discipline we had was great.
“A lot of the younger boys had the opportunity off the bench, and they were fantastic. I’m delighted for the whole group.
“The last few weeks we have shown glimpses of how good we can be,” he added.
“What we have lacked over the last few weeks has been that clinical edge to be accurate when we needed to be. We showed that.
“We’ve had a tough block with South Africa for three weeks, a busy festive period and then the Bulls last week.
“We’ve dug in together and we showed against Pau the quality that’s in the group. Hopefully this will kickstart us.”
Hughes also praised young fly half Will Reed and the bench for their contribution to a successful night.
“I thought Will was exceptional, for a young guy playing ten out here in a European game,” he said.
“How he managed the game first half was excellent. I’m proud of him and the young boys who came off the bench with huge energy.
“I’m chuffed for them, coming on and making a big impact. They gave us that energy when we needed it at the end.”
Next up is the Emirates Lions on home soil and for Hughes it is a chance to nail down a key win and potentially secure a home knockout stage fixture.
“We know the Lions well – we have played then twice already,” he smiled.
“We’re really looking forward to that game next week and welcoming them to Rodney Parade.
“We’ll play without fear and really express ourselves. We know how good we can be at home, and this will give us loads of confidence."
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There were times where we played some brilliant stuff, times when they were maybe on top, but we dug in and the discipline we had was great...