NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have made no attempt to sugar-coat their disastrous defeat to fiercest rivals Cardiff Blues, with captain Lewis Evans admitting they face plenty of soul-searching after their Rodney Parade horror show.
There was no talk of taking the positives after Saturday’s 16-5 RaboDirect Pro12 loss because there simply were none.
A miserable evening was made even worse by injuries to increasingly influential centre Andy Tuilagi (calf) and hookers Steve Jones (calf) and Hugh Gustafson (ankle).
They must wait for the results of scans, but if Jones and Gustafson are sidelined then the region is down to just one fit hooker – Sam Parry. The Dragons would need to find a back-up and they could either call for 18-year-old Academy prospect Elliott Dee, who has been playing for Bedwas, or give a chance to a semi-professional, with Cross Keys talisman Gerwyn Price in pole position.
Whoever the region has in its ranks, it doesn’t get any easier for the Dragons.
On Saturday they take on Munster in Limerick, and a repeat of the performance against the Blues would see them drubbed at Thomond Park.
“We didn’t perform and let ourselves down, the coaches down and our fans down,” lamented captain Lewis Evans. “The disappointment is obvious, we are frustrated and annoyed.
“Winning ugly would have been fine but we made far too many errors and need to take a long hard look at ourselves – if we ever want to be a big side then we can’t self-implode like that.
“We looked to target their scrum and it didn’t happen, while our lineout functioned well but what we did off that ball was not good enough.
“There were just far too many mistakes and wrong decisions, which makes this a harsh lesson for everyone, myself included.
“If we do the basics right we will come away with something and be able to hold our heads high, which we can't do at the moment.”
The Dragons didn't even manage to claim a bonus point against their nearest rivals and were left to regret their failure to capitalise when the Blues were down to 14 men.
They opted for a five-metre scrum when visiting prop Nathan Trevett was sin-binned early in the second half but the pressure was released by a penalty and just minutes later Wales wing Alex Cuthbert scored the match-winner.
Head coach Darren Edwards said: “There was a huge swing of momentum and that knocked the stuffing out of us but we have no excuses – we lost a game that needed to be won and we can't hide from that.
“We are on a rocky road if we start talking about errors and wrong options because we just needed to win it, simple as that.”
“It’s a tough league and if we are to get anything from Munster then we need a massive improvement at the contact area and with our starter plays off the set piece.