Cardiff boss Dai Young insists he doesn’t blame his players for trying to win the game against Harlequins, a decision which saw them suffer a last-gasp defeat in the process.
But he admits it would have been better to go about things a different way during the frantic conclusion to the Champions Cup thriller at the Arms Park.
There were just five seconds left on the clock when Rhys Priestland fielded the ball in his own 22, with the sides tied at 33-33.
The Wales fly-half contender boldly opted to counter, running out of the 22 and feeding Josh Adams who cut inside as he looked to try and make ground.
Brought to the deck, the Lions winger was then penalised for holding on and man of the match Marcus Smith slotted the stoppage time kick to earn the English champions a dramatic 36-33 victory and break Cardiff hearts.
Giving his verdict on what happened, director of rugby Young said: “I can understand a little bit how the players went for it right at the end there.
“They probably felt a draw wouldn’t be enough for us.
“A draw is always better than a loss really, but we will back the players on that.
“I don’t blame us for trying to win the game, but probably the best option there would have been to go to the air and see if we can get it back.
“I would have definitely gone to the air there as we’d had a lot of joy getting the ball back from the air.”
Just seconds before conceding the decisive penalty, Cardiff had been attacking at the other end of the field.
Having won a lineout, they went through four phases, taking them up to the 22 in front of posts.
But, to the surprise of some commenting on social media afterwards, replacement fly-half Priestland didn’t move into the pocket to try and slot a match-winning drop goal.
Instead, the hosts moved the ball wide, where it was spilled, enabling ‘Quins to kick up field and earn the penalty which brought them the spoils.
There had been an earlier incident which was also a talking point in terms of game management.
Leading 33-26, Cardiff were awarded a kickable penalty in the 65th minute, but instead of going for goal they went for the corner only for the resulting attack to come to nothing, with Quins No. 8 Alex Dombrandt securing a turnover near his own line.
The hosts had led 33-19 going into the final quarter, having scored five tries, with outstanding wing Owen Lane claiming a superbly-taken brace.
Reflecting on the victory slipping from his team’s grasp, Young said: “We were 19 minutes from time, with two scores in front. You like to think you can close those games out.
“But if you watch ‘Quins on a regular basis, that is a regular day at the office for them.
“They are never beaten until the final whistle really.
“I never felt comfortable, but I was really proud of the effort and the way we played, although I am never going to rejoice with a loss.
“I am disappointed we lost, but proud of the huge improvement we made in one week.”
He added: “I thought both teams went out and played rugby the way it’s meant to be played and did some excellent stuff.
“So I am sure people watching on TV would have enjoyed that game.”
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