Former Wales scrum-half Richie Rees has told his Cardiff Blues A team they must improve their decision-making after they blew victory against Munster A with one of the strangest calls of the season so far.
The Blues A team lost 33-32 at the Arms Park after they were awarded a penalty late in the match, with time to kick for the corner and launch a final attack.
Instead, full-back Tom Williams took a 60-metre shot at goal, which fell well short, and the Blues stumbled to their third successive defeat.
“We spoke about getting the small wins but we tried to force the outcome and that doesn’t work for us,” said Blues A coach Rees.
“It’s something we have to get better at, and the boys have to be more brutal and honest with themselves about some of the decision-making on-field. We allow them the freedom of making decisions but sometimes they’re the wrong calls.
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“We’ll speak about how to get better, give them scenarios, chat during the week and as a group we have to continue growing.
“For the last 15-20 minutes, we controlled the game more than we did for the whole opening 60 minutes and that’s the frustrating thing.”
The home side, who lost 7-3 to Ulster A the previous weekend, started confidently, suffered a post-interval slump, but then came storming back into the contest to get within a whisker of victory.
A brilliant solo try from hooker Ethan Lewis from the half-way line, complete with outrageous dummy, was the stand-out moment of a first-half that saw the boot of visiting skipper Bill Johnston edge Munster into a 16-13 lead.
They then added three tries from Sean French, Kenyan Knox and Alex McHenry to stretch their lead to 33-13 on the hour mark. At that stage there looked no way back for the home side, but they somehow clawed their way back into an entertaining contest with a driving line-out try from Callum Bradbury, a 60 metre special from Dan Fish and a well-fashioned score for Harri Millard.
Williams had a chance to take the lead with the final conversion, but pushed his kick past the upright from a wide angle. Even so, when the Blues were awarded a penalty 60 metres out from the posts in the dying seconds he took on a shot at goal it try to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Scarlets have taken over at the top of the Welsh regional conference table and are two wins away from booking their ticket to the final of the Celtic Cup.
Their 35-19 win over Connacht Eagles at Carmarthen Park allowed them to overtake the Ospreys at the top of Conference B. Despite losing two forwards to the sin-bin in the first half they managed to score three tries in nine minutes after the break to take all five points.
“A lot of the young boys stepped up and played well and I was really pleased with the performance. We didn’t get some of our accuracy right, along with some of our execution, but the boys continued to work hard and we’ll work on cutting out the errors next week,” said Scarlets head coach Richard Kelly.
“Connacht were good, but there were things we could have done better to control the game. We had a better attacking platform and better defence in the second half.”
Kelly’s heroes head to Ireland this weekend to face unbeaten Munster A, who stay locked on 19 points with Leinster A at the top of the Irish conference, and finish their round of six matches at home to the Dragons at Llandovery on 13 October.
Connacht hooker Jonny Murphy and outside half Conor Fitzgerald ran in early tries to give the Eagles a flying start, but by the break the Scarlets were back on level terms thanks to the first of two tries from full back Morgan Williams and another from back row man Stuart Worrall.
Then came a nine minute purple patch for the home side as the Scarlets, restored to 15 men after losing both tight head prop Javan Sebastian and flanker Tom Phillips to yellow cards in the opening half, went on the rampage.
Williams scored his second try, skipper and centre Steve Hughes and hooker Dafydd Hughes also got on the scoresheet. Outside half Dan Jones, a regular first-teamer this season, converted all five tries on his home town ground and the only consolation for the Eagles came with a try from a powerful scrum in the 68th minute by replacement No 8 Cian Huxford.
The Ospreys conceded eight tries in a disappointing 53-7 defeat to Leinster A in Dublin. Six of the home tries came from their powerful pack with flanker Scott Penny grabbing a hat-trick, hooker Bryan Byrne adding a brace and No 8 Ronan Foley getting another.
The lone try for the Ospreys came midway through the first-half. Scrum half Reuben Morgan-Williams got over the home line and his half-back partner Josh Thomas slotted the conversion.
The Dragons ran in three tries in Belfast, but still went down to a 27-19 defeat to Ulster A. Deon Smith, George Gasson and James Benjamin scored tries for the home side, who host unbeaten Leinster A this weekend at Ystrad Mynach, but it wasn’t enough to add to their earlier win over Connacht Eagles .