Richard Hodges was pleased with swathes of Cardiff Blues' performance against the Ospreys despite an unflattering final score in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
The scores were tied 7-7 for much of the encounter at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park as the Blues, boosted by some experienced heads, responded to last weekend’s heavy defeat to Exeter Chiefs.
They were in the ascent and pushing for a breakthrough but the sending off of Anton Peikrishvili proved a turning point.
The Ospreys quickly punished the indiscretion with a try and they racked up three late tries as the Blues chased the game.
Hodges said: “I spoke before the game, and at half time, about the opportunity that was created but an opportunity it only that if you take it.
“Last week we didn’t do that but certainly during the course of the first half we were really pleased with how our set-piece went, our scrum became fairly dominant, we managed to affect some of their lineout ball, we defended some big sets and managed to come in with a decent score-line.
“I can’t praise enough the boys who have come down from the senior group – Smiler (Matthew Rees), Macauley (Cook), Cory (Allen) that really led to an upturn of performance in the first half.
“But there’s no doubt the red card changed the game and led to the score-line at the end of a game. A red card will frustrate any coach, it had an impact and bearing on the game, it had been a real even contest until then and we were beginning to get a bit of a foot-hold.
“They had a very strong bench, which we knew could affect the game and we’re disappointed with the last ten minutes. A couple of tries, certainly the last one, could have gone the other way but unfortunately it fell their way.”
Wales’ Capital Region have put a major emphasis on the Guinness PRO12 this season and have prioritised a top six finish.
Subsequently the Anglo-Welsh Cup has been used to develop the stars of the future, with eight players making their regional debuts last week and another in Jim Botham on Friday night.
Hodges was pleased with the way some of his young players, some just 18-years-old, had stepped up to senior professional rugby but all eyes are now back on the PRO12 with Connacht up next before a home clash with Ulster.
He added: “We’ve experimented a fair bit. Our sole aim as a region this year is to finish in the top six of the Guinness PRO12 to get back in tier one of Europe so this competition is used as a development tool.”