Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder admitted his squad are “hurting” after losing both their opening games in the EPCR Challenge Cup – but vowed they would be “better in the long run”.

The Gallagher Premiership club succumbed 22-8 at Connacht Rugby in Round 1 and were then humbled 47-10 at home by Cardiff Rugby last weekend to find themselves propping up Pool A with no points.

Walder commented: “It’s been important to get game time for some of our players as we look to the back half of the season and the boys will benefit long term from the experience.

“It might not feel like that at the moment, because the guys are hurting after a pretty tough lesson, but they now know how big a step up they need to take. They will be better for it in the long run and we’ll look to kick on for the rest of the season now.”

The Falcons boss was full of praise for Cardiff, who head Pool A with 10 points after scoring 14 tries in their two games.

“We were beaten by the better side – a very experienced Cardiff team full of internationals,” he said. “Cardiff were class across the pitch, to be fair to them.

“Rhys Priestland controlled things really well – as you’d expect from an international ten, Taulupe Faletau hit some brilliant lines and showed why he’s so smart, and overall they just did some really intelligent things.

“We were disappointed with the first half. We spoke about fixing some things in the second half, which I think we did during those early moments, but it wasn’t enough.

“Cardiff got into our 22 four times more than we did into theirs, but they came away with 47 points from those visits and that’s the difference.

“What we were doing in the respective 22s just wasn’t good enough, both in defence and attack, and we were put to the sword by a good team. There are a lot of learning points for our guys and naturally we’re really disappointed.”