Liam Belcher admits Cardiff’s last-gasp draw with Zebre Parma was a bitter pill to swallow at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
It looked as though the Blue and Blacks had edged to victory when Mason Grady crossed in the corner, adding to earlier scores from Lopeti Timani and Ben Thomas.
But Zebre, who won their first competitive match in 29 attempts last week, refused to be denied. For six minutes of injury time they hammered at the Cardiff line and despite defending manfully and getting over the ball on a number of occasions yet unrewarded, the pressure eventually told.
Belcher described the result as feeling more like a loss than a draw when speaking to the broadcasters immediately after full time.
He remained bitterly disappointed but still took pride in his young side’s determination in an encounter where marginal decisions proved decisive.
Belcher said: “Looking back and I think obviously they missed nine points at goal. So that could have gone the other way really, when you put it in hindsight.
“The second half was a lot better than first half. We spoke about the first half, we just weren't at the races attitude-wise. We lost stuff that doesn’t require talent like kick- chase, escorts and the breakdown.
“I thought it was a lot better in the second half but even then we had a few entries in the 22. But we either coughed up through turnovers, the contact area or just handling. That's not good enough.
“It's great the effort from the boys there at the end. That's the things that we didn't have in the first half, which could have put us out of touch when it came to that last 20 minutes.
“With the young group of boys we’ve got, that's probably the first time in Italy for some of them, especially playing against Zebre. I think that's a big learning curve for them.
“But it's a bit of a pill to swallow.
“On Monday, we go over what did work well, what didn't work well. That's what we can do - win or lose you've got to be consistent between Monday and Thursday or Friday in your training week and then go from there. Obviously on Saturday (or Friday), that's where you've got to perform.”
Cardiff return to the Arms Park on Friday when they face DHL Stormers. Tickets are available now and can be purchased by calling 029 20 302030 during office hours or clicking here.