But Connacht hit back just before the break and Ruddock admitted the score had been a key turning point in an evenly fought clash.
"I thought the first 30 minutes were very good. I told the players I would judge them on attitude, their aggression and accuracy. I thought our accuracy was first class early on. We carried the ball to them scored a great try and played some good rugby," he said.
"But we dropped our standards in the last ten minutes of the first half and they scored a try. I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, but I'm convinced from my elevated position that their forward was in touch when he scored down the short side.
"We needed to keep a clean sheet in the first half, being ahead at half-time would have made such a difference. That try became crucial.
"In the second half we were competitive and kept battling away, there was only one score in it for the majority of the half.
"But Connacht thoroughly deserved their win and I wish them all the best in the knock-out stages."
Ruddock named a much changed team for the European trip and admitted that several players had put their hands up for selection again ahead of the resumption of Guinness Premiership action.
"We had a lot of young lads out there who would have learnt a lot, also players coming back from injury; some have made me think about our selections for next week," he added.
"Chris Pennell and Matthew Jones were good, but ultimately we are disappointed to lose. We tried out some combinations and youngsters alongside some settled players. It was like putting a new team together, but overall I thought we did well.
"It is not an easy venue to come do and it was a great start from us. But we just couldn't get the ball we needed to break them down and apply pressure."