Dai Young was left frustrated after an ‘uncharacteristic’ performance forced Cardiff to settle for a losing bonus point against Scarlets on Saturday.
In front of more than 10,000 supporters at the Arms Park, the hosts left themselves with too much to do after Scarlets stormed to a 19-3 lead after 30 minutes of action.
Despite scores from Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Carré and Josh Adams, the boot of Leigh Halfpenny kept Scarlets out of distance for the chasing Cardiff side.
Having won seven out of the last 10 outings, Young was disappointed that Cardiff didn’t represent the form they’ve shown this season.
“Both physically and mentally, we weren’t at our best today. Uncharacteristically we had a lot of errors, a lot of handling errors, which we’d taken out of our game for big parts of the season,” said the director of rugby.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the Scarlets, I thought they were the better team. They were in more control than we were.
“We showed in patches how threatening we can be, but we lacked control, certainly for the first 25 to 30 minutes.
“We struggled to get past three or four phases, and defensively, which has been rock-solid all year for us, we were very much soaked up.
“It was disappointing because physically and mentally we weren’t at our best.
“The scrums was an area where we were clearly on top, but one or two went against us which is surprising when you’re on top.
“But we’ve got to look at ourselves, there’s no point looking at anything else. We had to start better, but we didn’t.
“We were very careless with the ball and we didn’t have our normal bite in defence. The line-outs creaked early on but got better as the game went on, but it all rolled into one big ball of a lack of control.
“It gave them easy field position. We got ourselves back in the game in the second half, but gave away a couple of penalties, and Halfers doesn’t miss too many of them to be fair to him.
“It was scrappy, with a lot of mistakes in the game. As I said, I thought Scarlets were the better team but I don’t think they were in total control.
“There weren’t many examples of stringing five, six, seven, eight phases together. So it was scrappy, but these derbies on occasions are.
“We’re disappointed and especially disappointed to lose at home in front of a big crowd but more so that we didn’t play anywhere near our best.
“If you play near your best and you get beaten, so be it, but I don’t think we were anywhere near that tonight.”
Replays suggested that Jonathan Davies had strayed offside before adding his side’s third try of the evening, but the score was given following a TMO review.
However, Young emphasised that his focus remained on Cardiff’s own performance, as he called for the Blue and Blacks to react in next week’s home clash against Newcastle Falcons.
The former Wales and Lions international added: “As I say, in reality I don’t think we had many calls going our way. But we’ve got to look at ourselves.
“It would be quite weak of me to say that was the reason we lost.
“We had a tough call there, to be quite honest with you, but I’m more interested in looking at ourselves and why we weren’t as good as we’ve been over the last six to eight weeks.
“But that’s certainly one, when the TMO came in, I didn’t expect it to be give so it did surprise me.
“We’ve trained well all week, but there’s not much between the teams in this league.
“What I keep saying to the players is that if we’re not somewhere near our best, then we won’t win. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think any team in this league can afford to be 10 or 15 per cent off their best, and we were tonight.
“We could’ve still got back in it at the end, but that would’ve been a case of nicking it rather than deserving it.
“I’m disappointed that we lacked control and lacked the bite that we’ve had in previous weeks.
“But we’ve got to dust ourselves off and respond next week.”