Dean Ryan refuses to blame Donncha O'Callaghan after defeat to Leicester
Worcester Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan refused to blame Donncha O'Callaghan after the lock's red card cost his side in a 29-20 defeat to Leicester Tigers at Sixways.
In an extraordinary encounter, the Warriors raced into a 17-0 lead before ill-discipline halted their charge.
And the Tigers gradually mounted a comeback before sealing a four-try bonus point win at the death with replacement Lachlan McCaffrey crossing.
Referee Wayne Barnes showed four yellow cards in all to the hosts - two of them to O'Callaghan who was given his marching orders shortly after the interval - and the pressure eventually told.
But Ryan was not about to point the finger at the former Ireland lock - instead questioning the referee's interpretation after O'Callaghan pulled down a maul at the start of the second half.
"Donncha O'Callaghan is distraught. He has a red card and I am not sure it needed to be one," he said.
"I am not sure why Wayne Barnes needed to go to that. He (O'Callaghan) has been great for us since he came here.
"We were under enormous pressure. They were on top in the scrum and in the drive.
"We played really well and were under massive pressure near the end with 13 men. We played some decent stuff.
"We are frustrated that we didn't win. We are capable of winning that game and we have to start talking that language.
"We just made some silly mistakes near the end which was under huge pressure.
"If we get a dry day and it is not howling a gale and the game doesn't shrink to a scrum and a driving line-out, we will be good. We just struggle with a soft underbelly and we have to find a solution to that."
There was no sign of things to come when Wynand Olivier and Matt Cox both crossed to put the Warriors into a 17-0 lead.
But Graham Kitchener's score before the interval started the Tigers fight back and after the interval their unrelenting pressure - and numerical advantage - eventually told as Telusa Veainu and McCaffrey crossed either side of a penalty try.
"The game is 80 minutes and we did some good things and exerted some good pressure. The penalty count was pretty heavy," Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said.
"That wind was strong and we made some basic errors in the first half to let them in. We were good for our win although it was tough for Worcester to get nothing because they played pretty well.
"We created some opportunities but we were pretty inaccurate at times as well. If Worcester play like that, they will have no problems staying in this competition I have no doubt of that.
"As for the yellow cards, Barnes is a world-class ref and refereed it to the letter of the law. They were under a lot of pressure."