WALES coach Jason Strange had no excuses after his side fell to a 37-21 defeat to world junior champions England in the U20 Six Nations at Parc Eirias.
A packed Colwyn Bay crowd thought they were going to see a seventh successive win at the venue when Ben Jones knocked over a simple penalty to cut the gap to six points with eight minutes left to play, but man of the match Zach Mercer made victory secure with a fourth try in a virtuoso display.
It was an extraordinary score from an exceptional player and Strange was the first person to congratulate the Bath number eight on his performance.
He said: "We knew we were going to be up against a good side and England have a very special talent in Mercer. He really was the difference between the two teams.
"He has that X-Factor and we learned a hell of a lot tonight in difficult circumstances playing against him and his side. We have got a lot of players to come back in and make us even more competitive.
"Our intensity dropped off after a great start and their physicality got them on top. Once they got some quick ball it was difficult for us to contain them.
"We wanted to isolate their wingers and that worked well at the start. But our kick-chase wasn't as good in the second period of the first half.
"The players showed great character and bravery to get back to 27-21 and it was game on at that stage. That's why we were so disappointed to concede that final try to Mercer."
Wales skipper Will Jones, who sparked the second half revival with two great pieces of skill, said his players were 'gutted' to have lost.
"We started very well, but we let the intensity slip in the second 20 minutes of the first-half. Then we got back into the game and we had a bit of hope in the end.”