Director of Rugby Mark Hammett praised the spirit and pride of his 14-man Cardiff Blues as they battled adversity against Leinster Rugby - but admitted an 'unacceptable' first half red card had ultimately cost them.
Cardiff Blues were leading reigning Guinness PRO12 champions Leinster 13-5 at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park when the game’s big turning point saw lock Jarrad Hoeata red carded for a dangerous high tackle on Rob Kearney.
Straight-talking boss Hammett admitted the sending off had been the major turning point in the game as Blues – who also had a spell down to 13 men in the second half when Manoa Vosawai was sin binned – eventually lost 22-13.
However, he did also highlight the manner in which Blues battled until the end, kept playing attacking rugby and how many individuals had turned in their best display this season.
“There is no doubt that red cards and yellow cards do cost you,” said Hammett. “Just seeing it initially, I thought the decision against Jarrad was certainly a card of some colour.
“What he did was unacceptable. But he is one of my players who I care about deeply and that doesn’t change.
“Like us all, you do the crime, you do the time. Sometimes you have got to take that smack on the hand and man up about it.
“We are disappointed but he us one of us and we will look after him as one of us. I have spoken to Jarrad and I will talk to him again.
“Anyone who knows him knows he is not a malicious guy, he is a nice bloke. He didn’t need to say anything to the boys afterwards, his body language said enough.”
Reflecting on the performance despite being down to 14 men, Hammett added: “I take heart out of the fact that we were still playing even though we are men down.
“I don’t think we were hanging on, at times we were still playing really well. We tried to target the middle of the ruck and be aggressive and that opened up gaps out wide. Even with a man down we achieved that.”