Lucas de la Rua admits it was a bittersweet evening on Friday as he made his first start for Wales U20, who slipped to a narrow defeat against Italy in Treviso.
The back row, who starred for Cardiff U18 and CAVC this season, wore the number seven jersey at Stadio Comunale di Monigo, registering a first half score for Byron Hayward’s side.
However, a second half fightback led the hosts to victory, as Wales’ hunt for a first win of the campaign continues into the final round.
De la Rua - who is Cardiff born and bred to Spanish parents - is confident that Wales are close to clicking as a side and insists there is character within the squad to turn it around.
“It was my first start, and I’m obviously very proud and grateful for the opportunity. I was quite nervous and quite excited, but I enjoyed the occasion and it was unreal to cross for the try,” said the back row, who is Cardiff born and bred to Spanish parents.
“But we definitely could’ve won this game. You can’t be happy with a loss. We were in the fight for most of the match, but it slipped through the cracks at the end.
“It was a packed stadium and the atmosphere was amazing. I’ve never played in a match like this before.
“What I’ve learned is that you’ve got to rise to that pressure, but you’ve also got to match the physicality in front of you as well.
“We gave away little penalties that allowed them to get into our half but on the whole the team played well.
“We’ve seem to be dropping off towards the final 20 minutes of games, but it’s something that can be fixed through small adjustments and hopefully next time we’ll be able to hold on.
“We can’t let our heads drop, we’ve got to keep fighting. To get points when we were a man down showed our character.”
Reflecting on the difference of playing at this level, the back row added: “The one thing that’s stood out to me is the speed of everything. The rucks are much faster, so you are blowing. The speed that the game is played at is definitely the main difference.”