A lack of accuracy in attack cost Connacht dearly at the RDS last night
LEINSTER MAY HAVE been favoured going into last night’s game against Connacht but it is a testament to how far the westerners have come under Pat Lam that many were tipping them to get their first ever win at the RDS.
That is what made the game’s finale so frustrating from a Connacht perspective. After scoring a five-pointer to get within range of a draw, they conceded a try to deny them even a losing bonus point after a very unlucky bounce – that oval ball will really go anywhere.
While it wasn’t their most cohesive performance of the season, Connacht coach Pat Lam was pleased with the spirit shown by his team to claw their way back into their eventual 21-11 defeat.
“One thing that was in line with this season, and I’m very proud of, is that at 77 minutes after all that, we had a chance,” Lam said.
“We put ourselves back in with a chance. The first 20 minutes we struggled, I think the penalty count was 7-1 early on.”
It was that early period of Leinster dominance which proved decisive at the end. Slipping 8-0 behind when you have a serious wind in your favour isn’t the best way to go about winning a tough road game, and that is the position Connacht found themselves in after the first quarter.
Afterwards, Lam acknowledged that Connacht’s lackluster start made it very difficult to regain the momentum.
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“We had a few set-pieces in the first half where we could have put them under a bit of pressure but the lineout wasn’t clean, the passing wasn’t clean,” Lam said.
“That second 20 of the first half, if we had that at the beginning it could have been a different game because we were putting the pressure on.”
While Connacht left the RDS with no points, there are reasons to be positive if you are one of their supporters.
Scarlets also lost without a bonus point to Cardiff, so Connacht maintain their four point lead on that crucial sixth spot.
And on the pitch, Connacht created plenty in attack. Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty were very threatening and made a number of incisive breaks. Big Bundee Aki was also regularly able to get over the gain line.
Bundee Aki put in a beastly hit on Jamie Heaslip. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
The downside of that is Connacht were unable to convert many of these rumbles into tries. George Naoupu touched down from a maul late on but there were a lot of good opportunities wasted by Connacht, and it proved decisive at the end.
“We spoke about it at half time with our shape and choosing the wrong options,” Lam said.
“We were going one way when it was clearly on to go the other way. Our accuracy wasn’t good. Sometimes we held onto the ball when we should have let it go.”
Lam has a tough job to pick his team up as their next two fixtures are away to Ulster and at home to Munster. If they come out of the next two games with two defeats, it could be disastrous for their top six chances but Lam thinks his side showed in the second half against Leinster that they are capable of taking the scalp of their next two opponents.
“We need to win [vs Ulster], that’s the thinking,” Lam said.
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