Owen Lane was gutted to fall short against Toyota Cheetahs on Saturday as the South African outfit took the spoils thanks to an 88th minute penalty try.
Cardiff Blues showed the effects of their nightmare 55-hour journey to Bloemfontein as the hosts ran into a 16-point lead at half-time.
But Danny Wilson’s men shook off their woes and scored 21 unanswered points following the break thanks to tries from Lane, Willis Halaholo and Rey Lee-Lo.
It appeared as though the Blues would record a historic win, their ninth in a row, but the Cheetahs were given a sniff at the end and after more than 10 minutes hammering the line they were awarded a controversial penalty try to win.
Lane said: “It’s a real tough one to take to be honest especially with how we defended and the manner we lost it with a penalty try.
“It’s been a whirlwind couple of days with the travel, I’m not making excuses for the game because I felt we went in after one day of recovery and were in a good place.
“We were obviously fatigued but that’s not an excuse because we had opportunities in the first half which maybe we didn’t capitalise on, myself and the one with Nipper when he could have gone over.
“If we had come out of the first-half with points maybe in the second-half would have been different. In the second-half we put a shift in, the boys dug deep – we had opportunities and we took them.”
The Blues returned for the second-half refreshed and with a heightened level of intensity, which for large parts the Cheetahs simply could not cope with.
And while disappointed, Lane knows his side must focus on the positives with a now must-win clash against the Southern Kings on Saturday as they look to consolidate their European Champions Cup place.
He added: “It was just a case of taking opportunities. In the first-half we were getting in the 22 and coughing up the ball or making the wrong decision but in the second-half we made good decisions.
“There was good feet from Willis and Rey for their tries and we came away with points. For my try I was going to throw the pass but when the guy shot off the line, I stepped and luckily the gap opened up.
“It’s just not a nice one to take when you defend so hard at the end and lose on a penalty try.
“But the big thing for us moving forward now is the Kings game. It is good that we got a losing bonus-point out of this and that could come in handy at the end of the competition but we need to go to the Kings and put a big performance in.”
Cardiff Blues return to the Arms Park for a European Challenge Cup semi-final against Pau on Saturday, April 21. To buy your tickets today click here.