Dai Young has called on his side to improve their accuracy and core skills, following Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 defeat to Connacht at The Sportsground.
Loosehead props Rhys Carré and Corey Domachowski crossed for the visitors in Galway, but the hosts claimed all five points with two later scores securing the victory.
Former Cardiff and Wales prop, Young, admits it was an honest conversation in the changing room after the game and believes Friday’s clash against Munster will give his side an opportunity to bounce back from the disappointment.
“Obviously it’s disappointing. You’re always disappointed to lose a game,” said the head coach.
“In the first 30 minutes, we were looking pretty good with ball in hand and defensively we looked pretty solid. We were asking questions of them, getting off the line and winning collisions.
“In the last 10 minutes we started giving away too many penalties, which gave them too much field position. They started winning collisions and cause front foot ball and sneak two tries before half time, which was a bit of a killer for us.
“We knew we had to go out in the second half and win the first 20 minutes, and I thought we failed to do that.
“Accuracy really let us down on occasions and no matter who you’re playing, if you’re turned over 16 times with 10 of them being handling errors and concede 12 penalties, then you’ll struggle to win games.
“We have to give Connacht credit for the pressure they put us under, but we put ourselves under a lot of pressure as well. That’s what I’ve said to the players in the changing rooms.
“If we want to improve as a team, which we obviously do, it was a good game for me to understand where we are.
“In the two previous games, we had our internationals playing and today, pretty much without the internationals, it gave us a good idea of where we are in terms of strength in depth.
“We’ve really shown that we have to improve our basic skills to give us an opportunity to come to places like this to win games.
“We got ourselves back in the game, and then gave away three penalties on the bounce. They went back to their driving game, and they had two driving line-out penalties which gave them field position and got themselves over.
“That is disappointing because they didn’t have to work too hard on that.
“The commitment and effort was there but, as I said to the players, that’s a given. You don’t expected to be tapped on the back for going out there and giving your best and trying really hard, which they did tonight.
“We’ve shown that we have a bit of work to do and we have to improve our core skills and our game understanding to come away to these difficult places without our internationals and win games. That has to be our goal.
“We played against Connacht tonight, and they didn’t have anyone missing pretty much. But I said all week that it’s not about who’s not missing or playing, it’s about who we put out there. We were either going to be good enough or we weren’t. Tonight we weren’t.
“We’ve got to take that on the chin, and we have an opportunity to bounce back on Friday. We have to work hard in training and they’ve had a clear message. If we want to improve as a team there are core skills that we really have to work hard on.”
One positive for Cardiff was the return of club captain Ellis Jenkins, who made his first competitive appearance in 27 months, having recovered from a serious knee injury.
Young was pleased with the flanker’s impressive outing but insists they must be patient with his gradual return into action.
“I’m delighted for him and he played really well.
“He started to cramp up a little bit around the 65-minute mark but I have no doubt that he could’ve gone the full 80 had we left him out there.
“But I’d rather be cautious and get him off the field. Gwilym has played some decent rugby in the last couple of weeks and deserved an opportunity.
“So we have to protect Ellis but I’m really pleased with his contribution.”