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Hammer: We are still alive in Europe

13th December 2014

Director of Rugby Mark Hammett insisted Cardiff Blues hopes of a place in the last eight of the European Rugby Challenge Cup were still very much alive despite a difficult 34-23 defeat to London Irish.

Cory Allen and Gareth Anscombe – who finished with an 18-point haul – grabbed the tries at the Madejski Stadium.

But it was the hosts who took the points on offer to reclaim top spot in Pool 1 with two games remaining.

However, the Blues boss insisted - with games against Rovigo and Grenoble to come in January –his team still had progress into the last eight in their own hands.

“The result is disappointing for a number of reasons,” said Hammett. “There is a bit of head scratching in terms of some of the decisions that ended up being costly.

“In the first half the style which we were playing was outstanding. But we have to make teams earn their points. We had a charge down try again and an opportunistic try from a kick-off.

“We are disappointed, but I’m happy that we stopped them from getting a bonus point – that was important.

“We’re still alive in this competition. We’ve got two games to come and are still in a position where we can achieve he last four.”

Blues had started the game brightly and led with a well-constructed try from Allen that Hammett admitted had shown the kind of attacking rugby he wants to see from his team.

“That try was closer to the style that we are endeavouring to play,” he said.

“I thought in the second half we lost a bit of momentum and moved away from our clean out focus and body height. They got choke tackles and it slowed down some of our attacking play.

“There was a lot of areas that I was happy with. Defensively, aside from the charge down and opportunistic score, our defensive line was pretty much intact. It was strong and disciplined.

“In the second half we created some nice overlaps, but the skill set and crispness of getting there wasn’t at the standard we need to be. We are aware of that and we will work on it to make sure we can play the game we want.”