John Mulvihill has admitted Cardiff Blues fans are being short-changed following the region’s poor start to the season.
The Blues head coach has overseen three straight defeats in the Guinness Pro14, all of which involved the surrender of winning positions.
The latest came in Parma on Saturday where despite the perfect preparation of week based in Italy following their loss to Treviso the previous weekend, Mulvilhill’s side crumbled – losing 26-24, having been 21-0 ahead.
“We are not an 80-minute team at the moment and haven’t been for the last few weeks and that’s something we need to find,” said the Australian who took charge this summer.
“To lead and play as well as we did early and then to lose our shape and make so many fundamental errors towards the end of the game is really disappointing for everyone.
“Not just for players, coaches and staff but for all of our supporters who deserve better than they are getting at the moment.”
After five straight defeats – two coming in pre-season friendlies – Mulvihill is already a man under pressure, with a tough-looking home match to come against Munster this Friday.
After that, the Blues host the Cheetahs and visit the Dragons before the break for European rugby and fixtures against Lyon and Glasgow.
Far from building on last season’s European Challenge Cup triumph, the Blues appear to be going backwards although it would be wrong to pin it all on Mulvihill.
He arrived with a modest CV and following failed attempts to recruit earlier choices as a replacement for Danny Wilson, the coach who took the Blues back into Europe’s top tier tournament but became disillusioned with what he perceived as a lack of ambition.
At least Mulvihill gave an honest assessment of his team’s collapse against Zebre, where they conceded four tries.
“To say it is disappointing is an understatement. We made really costly, basic errors and four penalties on the bounce in the last 15 minutes put us under enormous pressure and they played well to seize those opportunities.
“We need to go back to review this, the detail we are missing and make sure we bring that next week because it’s going to be a massive task to play against a team like Munster at home.
“There are no excuses, we have to aim up and we have to do it for 80 minutes not 78 minutes like we’ve done over these last weeks.”
The Blues led 24-7 with 16 minutes to go but they were left to deal with a third straight defeat after late tries from Johan Meyer, Francois Brummer and Oliviero Fabiani.
Mulvihill’s side led 21-0 after 10 minutes thanks to tries from Olly Robinson, Kristian Dacey and Gareth Anscombe, who converted all three scores.
Carlo Canna scored and converted a try to get the hosts on the board in the 14th minute and, despite Anscombe’s 53rd-minute penalty, Zebre produced a rousing finish to take victory.
Scrum-half Gareth Davies scored twice as the Scarlets came from behind to beat 14-man Benetton 38-29 at Parc y Scarlets.
The Italian side paid after having lock Irne Herbst sent off in the 27th minute for elbowing Samson Lee in the head at a ruck.
The Scarlets had trailed twice but recovered to secure a bonus-point win, with Gareth Davies (2), Kieron Fonotia, Johnny McNicholl, Ed Kennedy and Tom Prydie scoring tries – four of which were converted by Leigh Halfpenny.
Props Nicola Quaglio and Simone Ferrari, Monty Ioane and Luca Sperandio all went over the line for Benetton, for whom Tommaso Allan kicked nine points.
Josh van der Flier made a try-scoring return from a knee injury as Leinster dished out a 52-10 defeat to the Dragons at the RDS Arena.
The Ireland flanker crossed on the stroke of half-time, adding to Sean Cronin’s opener, as Leinster built a 17-0 lead.
Man of the match Jamison Gibson-Park and Jordan Larmour sealed the bonus point while Ross Moriarty was in the sin-bin.
Further tries from Gibson-Park, Tadhg Furlong and Scott Fardy, allied to Johnny Sexton’s 15-point kicking haul, and completed the rout.
The high point for Bernard Jackman’s Dragons was a scintillating solo score from full-back Jordan Williams – but the defending champions proved too strong in their first home game of the new campaign.
Munster racked up seven tries as they dominated a much-changed Ospreys side to deliver a comfortable 49-13 thrashing at Irish Independent Park.
They christened the Cork venue’s new 3G modified pitch with a 15th-minute penalty try and converted scores from Joey Carbery, James Cronin and Rhys Marshall to lead 28-6 at half-time.
Captain and seasonal debutant Peter O’Mahony kept Munster on the front foot and further tries from Marshall, Arno Botha and Darren Sweetnam wrapped up a big bonus-point victory, with fly-half Carbery finishing with 15 points.
Sam Davies landed two first-half penalties for the Ospreys, who had both Giorgi Nemsadze and Adam Beard sin-binned. Wales Sevens star Luke Morgan marked his debut with a second-half try.