Josh Turnbull was left with nothing but immense pride as Cardiff Blues went down battling at Murrayfield against Guinness PRO14 Conference B leaders Edinburgh.
The Blues travelled to the Scottish capital targeting a fifth-straight win in the city but with an injury-hit squad.
They were forced to make four changes in the 24 hours ahead of kick-off and handed PRO14 debuts to Ben Murphy and Ioan Davies, from the bench, while Max Llewellyn made his first start.
And while Turnbull was disappointed his side let a losing bonus-point slip, he was hugely impressed by the squad’s battling spirit and the contribution of their young guns.
He said: We came to play with a certain game plan, we did it excellently in the first half but probably didn’t have enough territory in the second-half to come away with points.
“But credit to all the boys. The squad we brought up here tonight had a lot of young boys, boys making their first league starts, boys on the bench making their debuts - I couldn’t be prouder of those boys. We really showed character against a strong Edinburgh team.
“There were lots of knocks and bruises this week and I don’t think the five day turnaround helped, it’s always a little bit difficult when that happens. You have to take them at times but I thought we trained well and we managed the squad the best we could, giving the boys opportunities and some of those boys stood up today.
“From the first defensive set after half-time we showed we were still there and wanted to get something out of the game, all the way until the last minute.
“We got a drive deep in their half late on and they ended up pushing us back a bit and getting the turnover. They ended up going all the way down field, twice really, and getting penalty kicks, which took us away from a bonus-point.
“But to stay in the game for that long, with the group of boys we had here, they deserve a pat on the back.”
The Blues now have a two week period without a game before they host Zebre at the Arms Park on March 21.
They hope to welcome a number of injured players back in the weeks and months ahead and while there is ground to make up in the race for the play-offs, the versatile forward is confident it can be done.
He added: “If we show the same character, especially with the boys we have coming back from internationals and injury, the squad starts to look a little bit different and if we show that character we’ll get a few victories in the run in.”