Macauley Cook admits the Celtic Cup loss to Munster A on Friday will be a learning curve for the entire squad, as they prepare for the penultimate game of the campaign against Connacht Eagles on Saturday.
Despite plenty of promise from the young Cardiff Blues A side at Irish Independent Park last weekend, and a try from Josh Male, the hosts picked up a bonus point win.
Cook, who skippered the side at Cork, was proud of the character shown by the squad and believes there were plenty of promise in both attack and defence.
“We are obviously disappointed with the loss and the result, but there were a lot of positives to take from that game,” said the former Wales under-20 international.
“We had a really young side out there, with a few boys still only 17-years-old so it will be massive experience for those boys and a bit of a learning curve.
“We were a little bit more composed this week, because we were frantic at times against Ospreys.
“It’s a learning curve for all of us, especially with a young backline, and it’s difficult at times.
“They’re learning well, and I thought they did well on Friday because there was facets to the game in both attack and defence where we had good outcomes.
“We ran good shapes in attack, which caused them problems especially for the try, and we probably should’ve had a couple more.
“In defence, we put Munster under a lot of pressure but some of the penalties didn’t go our way, which was frustrating and put them in good field position and it was difficult to get out of that.
“It wasn’t an ideal start to concede the first two tries, but the senior boys emphasised that we were still in it and that they hadn’t stressed us too much to that point. It was our own errors which gave them those points.
“We bounced back, and at the end of the first half we were playing good rugby.
“We came out for the second half and put some good stuff together but it was frustrating to concede a couple of tries towards the end.
“They deserved to win the game overall, but we don’t think the gap in the scoreline reflected the way the game had gone.
“No one likes to lose a game of rugby at the end of the day, but there’s a lot to learn from and we’ll move on and look forward to Connacht on Saturday.”
With more than 150 senior appearances under his belt, Cook was one of the most experienced players to feature in Ireland on Friday.
The former Wales under-20 captain is relishing the leadership role within the set-up and believes the Celtic Cup offers a perfect opportunity for senior players to gain valuable game time.
The utility forward added: “I haven’t been captain for a while to be honest, and it’s a challenge to think more about speaking to the referee and being vocal with the boys to lead them on.
“I find it simple enough but you learn to concentrate on your own performance as well and I’ve enjoyed the experience.
“For some of the boys who are on the fringes of the senior squad, and not having much game time, it’s good to have this level to play at and it’s good to get game time under our belts at this sort of pace and quality.
“It’s good for us but also for the young boys to come through. It’s good experience for them to play alongside boys like Alun [Lawrence], Ethan [Lewis], Jim [Botham] and Ben Murphy, and be able to learn from them as well.”