John Mulvihill was disappointed with his side’s Jekyll and Hyde performance as Leicester Tigers ran away with the victory at Welford Road on Sunday.
The visitors led at the break, courtesy of tries from Josh Adams and Ben Thomas, but man-of-the-match George Ford steered his side to victory with a strong second half outing.
The head coach praised his side’s effort in the Midlands, but says the performance of the England international playmaker proved the difference in the fifth round of Challenge Cup action.
“I commented after the game about how well we played and the effort we put in, but we didn’t get the points in the end.
“It was polar opposites between the first half and the second half with possession and territory.
“They’re a good team and they showed their depth there, but they probably got away with that one.
“Just after half time, there was a disallowed try for Matthew Morgan and then they scored a try of their own straight after, with a clear forward pass, but that was a 14-point turnaround.
“It was so close, but Ford managed his areas really well and he was probably the difference between the two teams tonight.
“Harri Millard will probably be rushed off for scans and his shoulder injury didn’t look really good.
“For the effort we put in, we probably deserved a little bit better. But we have to brush ourselves off and get on with it.”
Mulvihill was dealt a late blow before the encounter, as Hallam Amos was ruled out with an ankle injury.
The defeat strengthens Leicester’s lead at the top of Pool 5, putting them out of Cardiff Blues’ sight ahead of the final round of action.
The Australian is eager to see his side bounce back during next week’s clash against Calvisano at the Welsh capital and believes the Tigers will be a handful in the knockout stages.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens next week. We’ll put a good team together and play some exciting rugby down at the Arms Park and see what we can do,” said Mulvihill.
“We had three changes during the week, with Jarrod and Hallam and a couple of changes.
“We went for a six-two split on the bench, and I thought it was going to hurt us with 20 minutes to go but we got through and the boys hung in.
“They’re good enough players to get through that disruption but we’re not going to read too much into it. We were beaten in the last 20 minutes by a really organised and good rugby team.
“Josh Adams is a world class wing, who can also play at 13 and 15, and Wales are really lucky to have a good one there.
“If we have a fully-fit team, he won’t be playing at 13, he’ll be playing on the wing.
“We thought we might give him an opportunity there this week, which would suit the way that we play and with the disruption with injuries. He trained there all week and did really well but we disappointingly had to change it at the last minute.
“It’s a very different competition compared to the Heineken Champions Cup, but you still come up against very good opposition, and you saw the quality Toulon had to put Scarlets away last night.
“Leicester will finish top of the pool, and they’ll be able to put pressure on big teams later in the competition.”