Connacht’s Pat Lam ‘gutted’ to let another game slip away against Leinster
Leinster move up to second in Pro12 table, with Munster and Ulster in first and fourth
Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw slips past Gordon D’Arcy and Dave Kearney in Saturday night’s Pro12 game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Whereas Leinster moved up to second in the table, with Munster and Ulster also in first and fourth, Connacht return to the Heineken Cup after again suffering the indignity of returning to the table. That this was courtesy of Zebre’s win over Treviso brings their arrival to The Sportsground next weekend sharply into focus.
“As a group we’ve always focused on the outcomes, and we badly want the wins and we badly want to be off the bottom of the table,” admitted Pat Lam after this defeat. “But you just go game to game and try to improve. I think the biggest thing that will focus us is that we’ve got a few guys coming back from injury and the next thing that will focus us is that we’re still alive in Europe.
“If we can get a good win next week and Toulouse beat Saracens, then we go to London (to play Saracens on Saturday week) with everything alive. And that is the maths of it.
“But the bottom line is that we have to do our part of it and get a win against a Zebre team who obviously beat Treviso. So it’s all on for us next week and that shouldn’t be hard to motivate, particularly on the back of that. Sure they get pats on the back for the effort, but we’re gutted as a group that we let another game slip away.”
Well though John Muldoon has adapted to playing openside, Lam will be particularly grateful to have his young Kiwi openside Jake Heenan fit again this week.
Lam was aggrieved over some of the big decisions which went against his side, but he admitted that they lost their shape in defence and didn’t protect the ball as well as they should have, although they could not be accused of not playing any rugby, as Matt O’Connor had said after their meeting at the RDS.
“I’m really pleased with what we are trying to do. I get comments from coaches and people I respect, people who look deeply and understand, analyse us and know what we are trying to do.
“When we do that, like I said, it doesn’t matter if you have someone who has played 100 Tests or someone in the academy, it is a team game and the more we do those kind of things the more we can be a really good side.
“It is another one of those opportunities that tags on to the rest of the season – you nail two to three of those games and you are in the middle of the table in this competition.”
‘Have a vision’
“We have a vision of Connacht and where we want to go and we have just got to keep going towards that. We have a lot of support from all our key people and particularly in the group we know that and that’s why we’re disappointed. It’s not about the outcome it’s the process, I keep saying that. And today some of our key processes let us down.”
He could feel vindicated for his selection of Jack Carty for his first competitive start at outhalf, the 21-year-old showing the football nous which good judges have detected for some while, and Darragh Leader (20) was also full of vim and vigour at fullback, as well as providing a master class under the high ball. Robbie Henshaw again showcased his talent.
“So much has been said about Robbie,” said Lam. “Every game he plays he goes from strength to strength and I thought that whole backline, going up against a full international backline, I thought they did well.
“Robbie and Eoin Griffin in particular in the midfield going up against the most experienced combination in world rugby, I thought they held themselves really well, so that was pleasing. A positive out of the game.”