Unexpected Cornish Pirates defeat leaves head coach Ian Davies to question his players' attitude
Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies was typically blunt in his post-match assessment of his team's unexpected defeat in Wales on Saturday to Carmarthen Quins.
Despite outscoring the hosts two tries to one, the Pirates struggled to find their rhythm and their six-game winning run, stretching back to November, came to an end at an icy Carmarthen Park.
"We didn't establish the authority we should have done and in no facet of the game were we dominant," he said.
"Our kicking game was poor, the set piece didn't function and we didn't support the ball carriers."
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But ,despite a penalty count of 12-5 against the Pirates, Davies refused to blame Scottish referee Johan van der Merwe as he felt his team should have coped better with the interpretation of the official at the set piece and breakdown.
He explained: "Carmarthen Quins are a tough nut at home and the small crowd put pressure on the officials.
"Suddenly 50-50 decisions started to go against us but we have to learn to adapt to different interpretations of the match officials. The laws are the same, it is just the interpretations which are different.
"We should have been good enough to win but we turned it in to a battle. We didn't play the officials well enough, it's as simple as that, and the boys will have to learn from this."
Both teams had a player sin-binned with former Pirates wing Darren Daniel yellow carded for a scuffle with Kieran Hallett, while Gavin Cattle was carded late in the game for stamping.
Davies, however, felt that on another day Cattle would have been allowed to play on.
"Darren Daniel was lucky not to get a straight red," he said. "There was a tip-tackle on Kieran [Hallett] which wasn't really, but he's handy with his fists and landed three or four punches."
"Gavin [Cattle] was penalised for use of the boot at a ruck but in actual fact one of the Carmarthen boys said afterwards that he thought he was going to get carded. Gavin was actually well placed to score."
Davies' only success against Carmarthen as a player and a coach came in the earlier pool fixture between the teams, when the Pirates won 44-32 at Mennaye Field.
Now his team will have to wait for Llanelli to play Moseley and Nottingham to reschedule their tie with Llandovery before finding out if they have earned a home draw in the next round.
"We are totally dependent on other results now," he said. "The disappointment of this defeat will only be washed away if other results go our way."
He suggested that the prolonged uncertainty of this game going ahead due to the bad weather may have subconsciously affected the Pirates' squad.
The game had hung in the balance due to the heavy snow affecting much of Wales, but Carmarthen escaped the worst of the weather and an early pitch inspection on Saturday confirmed the tie would go ahead.
"We were flat. Maybe we were too relaxed going into the game. Perhaps some of us didn't think the game would go ahead," he said. "But although it was freezing cold the pitch was perfect."
Yet despite the despondency for Davies and his squad, there was one highlight for the Welshman to savour as centre turned back-row Alex Cheeseman scored his third try of the season after just eight minutes.
"It was brilliant," he said. "The Alex Cheeseman try was probably one of the best we have scored this season with real continuity between the backs and the forwards."
Now the Pirates can switch their focus back to the Championship and the 1,000-mile round trip, weather permitting, to leaders Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park on Friday night.