Defence Coach Dale McIntosh pulled no punches as he admitted Cardiff Blues had pressed the self-destruct button against Newport Gwent Dragons as they suffered a 25-21 defeat in the quarter-finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Blues had opened up a 14-3 lead at Rodney Parade before a controversial try from Hallam Amos before half-time gave Dragons a way back into the game.
A second half onslaught saw Dragons score 22 unanswered points to open up a 25-14 lead before Josh Navidi’s late try game Blues hope.
But it was not to be as one last chance was lost to leave McIntosh and the coaching team to rue a poor second half show.
He said: ”We pressed the self-destruct in the second half. We talked about being more accurate and playing in the right areas of the pitch, keeping the intensity going if not raising it.
“But the first thing we did was make a poor lineout call and give away a penalty that led to their try.
“We didn’t manage the game after half-time. Good players made basic errors which diverted the momentum that we had in the first half.
“We knew the Dragons would come out with more intensity in the second half and look to play in the right areas of the pitch. We added to that strategy.”
McIntosh was also left aggrieved at the first half score by Amos – but heaped praise on Dragons for forcing their way back into the game.
“I’m not having a crack at the officials, but in big games you need the rub of the green and I felt their first try was dubious,” he added.
“You had two guys occupying the same space and for me that is blocking. One occupied a space and one of our defenders took it. Then another of their players attacked it again and stepped outside.
“That’s blocking but we all make mistakes and that is not the reason; we lost the game, we self-destructed after half-time.
“I felt we were comfortably 10 or 11 points better than them in the first half. But that try meant we went in closer which meant we had to take the onslaught,” he added.
“I’m not disrespecting the Dragons. They deserve what they got and I have no qualms with that at all. But we self-destructed in the third quarter.
“We played in the wrong areas of the pitch, dropped balls and missed touch. We were making poor decisions at crucial times. Even towards the end, with the last play of the game, we did that.
“We zig-zagged and got the numbers on the right hand side of the pitch, but we went and carried one more time.
“Instead of calling for the ball and hopefully getting the try we needed we missed it. The Dragons worked hard and got the turnover which they deserved.
“We talk of learning curves but we have been saying that all season. Players need to learn. The attitude was great and we gave Dragons the respect they deserved but we lacked accuracy.”