Dai Young has called on Cardiff Blues to learn from errors and indiscipline in critical moments during their slender Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup defeat to Munster on Friday night.
It was an encounter that had it all at Thomond Park as Munster demonstrated their ruthless edge and forward muscle, Cardiff caused chaos attacking from all angles and decisive decisions proved costly.
The capital city charges surged into an early lead in Limerick thanks to a fine try finished by Tomos Williams but all the hard work was undone in a devastating 10 minutes.
Refereeing decisions rightly or wrongly piled up against the Blues but Munster needed no second invitation as they reverted to their traditional power game and struck with three tries.
That entirely swung what had been an impressive, and even dominant, performance from Young’s side in the opening quarter and they were left with a mountain to climb.
However, Cardiff were undeterred by the challenge ahead and staged a comeback in an impressive second half with a second try from Williams and another from his replacement Lloyd Williams.
Jarrod Evans contributed with an unblemished record from the tee and booted his side back into the lead in the final 10 minutes but the door was left ajar and Munster claimed a late fourth try and hung on to win.
Young was pleased with his side’s performance and identified plenty of positives but he insists his side must become more accurate in critical moments on both sides of the ball to turn such results into victories.
He said: “I’m disappointed because we came here talking about making statements and we were in that game. These are games we have to start turning losses into wins. We’re not too far away but critical moments got away from us.
"There were lots of positives but we have to look at ourselves a little bit again playing against a quality team. We knew field position was always going to be important and stopping their driving lineout five metres out would be a big ask for us.
"What we talked about in the week is not giving them that position. For 25 to 30 minutes I thought we were excellent. We played a lot of good stuff, challenge the gainline and got our noses in front.
"Then we were put under a bit of pressure gave away two or three silly penalties and we were marched down the field and resulted in five-meter driving lineouts. Exactly what we said we didn't want which put us under pressure, which gave them momentum and gave us a bit of a mountain to climb second-half.
"We had a big chat at half-time about looking at ourselves and I was pleased with the attitude. We were very conscious about what Munster can bring but they were fixes we could put right. Keep our discipline, don't give them field position, stop the driving maul and get our support players and ball carriers quicker and control the pitch.
"We did that second-half and got our noses in front and right at the end it was a bit nip and tuck and it could have gone either way. That 10 minutes before half time took it away from us.
"I don't think I have any complaints. We have to realise there are going to be times in games where the pressure comes on and we can't be giving away penalties. I did not feel they looked like scoring outside our 22 and I was pretty pleased with our defence but if you give them set-pieces inside the 22 they are hard to stop.”
While Munster put the squeeze on Cardiff to come away with points, the Blues continued their high-intensity, attacking rugby seen in recent weeks.
They created three impressive tries by moving the ball but Young believes the next step in the team’s evolution is to blend that with a more conservative approach when necessary and perform for the full 80.
He added: "We want to earn the right to win. We showed some real positive intent with the ball and played some great stuff.
“But sometimes the game gets messy and becomes an arm wrestle and we need to be more confident in that phase of the game.
"We stick to our systems don't give away easy penalties and we have to muscle up five metres from our line.
"They had a couple of driving lineouts and got themselves over and we had a couple and did not achieve anything.
"There is still a bit of work to up front but we showed some positive glimpses. We have to do it for 80 minutes and not for 10 minutes here or there, that's not good enough.
"It was closer to an 80 minute performance today. We played some great attacking rugby but when the game goes a bit quieter and becomes an arm wrestle, that's when we start to struggle, panic and give away penalties and lose control of the field. We have to grow as a team.
"It is not all about playing great attacking rugby, that's what we want to play but sometimes you have to earn that right by staying in the arm wrestle and winning those tough moments as well."