Dai Young was left frustated at his side’s Jekyll and Hyde performance, as Cardiff struggled to cope with Vodacom Bulls’ physicality in the second half at Cardiff Arms Park.
Despite a promising first half in the United Rugby Championship encounter, with a 16-3 lead at the interval, the Blue and Blacks slipped to defeat following tries from Elrigh Louw and Madosh Tambwe, and a flawless display off the tee from Chris Smith.
Young admits the South Africans’ bruising physicality was the different in the second half but insists his side must improve their own accuracy.
“It was a really positive first half. We matched their physicality right around the pitch,” said the director of rugby.
“From the set piece to our general play, where all our carries were getting over the gain line.
“That got us on the front foot and we looked dangerous.
“On the flip side of that, we bossed the gain line in defence and at half time we were really pleased.
“In the second half, they upped their physicality and started having front foot ball.
“They’re a big, powerful team once they get on the front foot and once they have momentum they’re hard to stop.
“That wasn’t helped by our lack of accuracy and we tended to compound our errors.
“Once we made one mistake, it resulted in another one pretty quickly. We couldn’t find a way to get that momentum back.
“As positive as the first half was, the second half was disappointing. They’re a quality team with quality players and physicality is something they’ve got aplenty across the board.
“We handled it first half but certainly couldn’t maintain it for 80 minutes.
“Two of their tries came from our attack so it wasn’t a case of them building anything.
“They’ve picked up a lot of points from our inaccuracy in attack. Once they got their nose in front, you’re chasing the game and they’re not a team you can chase.
“They were always going to get better after a couple of games. You have to give them credit but we also need to look at ourselves.
“We have to be better and we can’t make the errors we did in the second half.
“The penalties started to flow because we were under pressure. We had a few dull penalties, which we need to be better at.
“We weren’t getting the presentation in the carries and that allowed them to get turnovers.
“In the battle of the gain line, they won the second half and that makes it hard for us to play.”
Cardiff were dealt an early blow in the capital as British and Irish Lion, Josh Navidi, was forced off with a shoulder injury after only eight minutes of action.
While it’s too early for a diagnosis, Young is sympathetic with the back row star who has suffered a series of injuries over the last few years.
The former Wales prop added: “It’s the same shoulder he’s had an injury previously with, but as with any injury we don’t know for 48 hours.
“They’ll leave it settle but what I would say is that Josh doesn’t come off very easily.
“That’s the fearful factor but we don’t know. Fingers crossed it’s not as bad as first feared.
“But when you see him coming off, you know he’s had a bump.
“He’s had no luck, and the way he plays the game is right on the edge, physicality-wise.
“He chucks his body about and got no respect for his own body, really.
“They were a huge team and the biggest I’ve ever played against.
“But you need to be able to cope with it and in the second half we couldn’t.”