Edinburgh went down to a 21-15 Heineken Champions Cup defeat at the GGL Stadium, but had two tries ruled out by referee Wayne Barnes and held their hosts to a scoreless second half as they headed home with a losing-bonus point.
“My God, it is very frustrating because 100 per cent we should have won it. I’ve got nothing but credit for our lads,” said Cockerill, whose side face the second Top 14 club in the pool, three-times winners Toulon, in round two.
“We take a bonus point, it’s 4-1 in the first round and they’ve still got to come to us. Toulon won’t look forward coming to us if we can play like that.
“Now we’ve got to improve parts of our game and make sure when Toulon come to Murrayfield we put in that same type of performance.
“A little bit went against us in terms of the officiating. A scrum went round on their line, we scored and it was offside.
“Was it a scrum penalty back to us? Then there was a clear cut opportunity with Magnus Bradbury in the hole, but Simon Berghan wanted to score and ran across him – that was the game-winning moment and you have to be cool and collected.
“We’ve got to learn from those experiences. The Edinburgh team has never had a real steel about it, but this one has. We’ve got some devil about us and we want to play and we want to win.”
Montpellier scored three tries in the opening half and at 21-7 looked all set for a comfortable bonus-point win.
But Edinburgh clawed back a penalty on the stroke of half-time and went on to totally dominate the second half.
“We went behind to one good try at the start, but tries two and three were pretty poor from us in turning the ball over and defensively. We talked at half-time about staying in the game and we did and we had all the pressure,” added Cockerill.
“We should have scored a try when Berghan ran across Bradbury’s line and got all flustered. That cost us, but there were opportunities for us.
“I’m proud of the performance, but we can play better. We are going to work hard this week because we’ve got to turn these opportunities into wins.”
Cockerill confirmed that Edinburgh’s first try scorer, Stuart McInally, went off at half-time because of illness.
“He hadn’t eaten for two days before the game because of sickness,” he said. “He declared himself fit to play, but ran out of steam in the first half.
“Stuart decided he’d give it all he had for as long as he could, but he was shattered by half-time. He’ll be fine to face Toulon next weekend.”