Ellis Jenkins was left feeling proud of his side's effort and commitment, despite falling to a last gasp home defeat to defending champions, Leinster, in the opening Guinness PRO14 fixture.
The back row returned to action for his region on Friday night, after co-captaining Wales to an undefeated summer tour in the Americas.
Despite two tries apiece for Rey Lee-Lo and debutant, Jason Harries, John Mulvihill’s side had to settle for two bonus points, as Bryan Byrne’s late touch down claimed victory for the visitors.
Jenkins insists his side will learn from the missed opportunities, and will remain positive following the overall performance.
“It's a gutting one for us. I asked the boys to work hard for each other, before the game, and there were boys out on their feet. I'm really, really proud of the performance, but a couple of key moments let us down,” said Jenkins.
“You have to take the positives, we were happy with the performance but a couple of key areas let us down. But it’s the first game of the season, so we’re not hitting the panic button yet.
“We had chances to score, but we didn’t take them. We had two tries, which have been rightly disallowed in my opinion.
“We had another opportunity where we had a driving line-out going to ground, dropped the first ball and we were 60 yards back downfield.
“Leinster are a quality team, and have been the flag bearers for Ireland and the league, for the last couple of years. They won the double last year, and have set the bar, so it’s up to the rest of us to catch up.
“Against any team in the PRO14, and especially against Leinster, you can’t afford to make mistakes like that and come away with the win, and even then, strangely, we almost did.
“It’s not ideal for us. We thought we should win that game and we should’ve if I’m being brutally honest.”
Another player who impressed on Friday night was young outside half, Jarrod Evans, who enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last season and was duly nominated for the 2017/18 PRO14 Young Player of the Season award.
Jenkins paid tribute to Evans and debutant Harries, while also recognising the atmosphere created by the 9,284 in attendance at the Arms Park.
|Jarrod is quality, and he’s shown his class again-and-again,” said Jenkins.
“I’m also happy for Jason. He worked really hard during pre-season, he’s a good athlete and finished his try well.
“All we want is boys to play hard for each other, and the boys up front put in a great defensive shift, as did the two boys in the centre, who I thought were brilliant.
“The Arms Park is always loud, even when the crowd is a bit smaller. We got a couple of tries and you could hear them making some real noise.
“The atmosphere does help us and every one wants to play in front of as big a crowd as possible. The crowd here is always fantastic.
“We’re happy enough with the performance we gave them, but it’s a shame we couldn’t get the result.”