Two penalties from the boot of Jarrod Evans, on his full Guinness PRO12 debut, saw Cardiff Blues take a 6-0 lead after an hour of the action at a wet and blustery Liberty Stadium.
Home skipper Alun Wyn Jones crashed over to put the home side ahead and penalties from Sam Davies wrapped up the win.
But Cardiff Blues battled until the end to take a deserved losing bonus points to give Wilson reason to be positive for the future.
“It was important we fronted up in a derby and came here with the right mindset. It’s a tough venue to come to and I thought we showed it today,” he said.
“I was pleased with the defensive commitment and it is credit to the players and Graham Steadman and Richard Hodges for the work we are doing in defence.
“It really showed and for huge patches in that game we defended well. We conceded just one try when we perhaps struggled to exit from deep field position in the conditions.
“From where we have been to that performance is a massive step in the right direction; a huge improvement.
“In the second half we didn’t exit well from a couple of loose ball situations. It leads to being stuck in field position and good sides put you under pressure.
“We didn’t manage our back field well enough and Sam Davies found huge gaping holes in situations when we should have managed better. That gave them positon and camped us back.”
Wilson praised a new-found line speed in defence adding: “The guys have worked really hard on improving our speed. We were far too passive earlier on in the season and giving up too much ground.
“This game was all about getting out of the blocks and putting pressure on skills in these conditions.
“I thought the boys did that and players like Rey Lee-Lo and Gavin Evans gave us that in midfield.”
Cardiff Blues will now monitor the fitness of Sam Warburton (ankle), Tom James (head) and Kristian Dacey (elbow) ahead of the clash with Connacht at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park next Friday night.
“We have a few knocks to manage with a short turnaround until the next game,” added Wilson.
“Sam amongst others will be assessed over the next 24 hours and will be given the relevant recovery time.
“It will take a few days to recover from a huge shift here. We have taken a losing bonus point, our fourth this season which shows we are involved in some tight games.
“That for me was out best away display for some time. I am disappointed to lose but far happier that we have got a platform to build on.”