‘We’ve got to win this week’ - Connacht looking for improvements in attack against Benetton

Connacht head coach says attacking averages need to improve: ‘it’s not where it needs to be’

Connacht are under pressure to improve the attacking side of their game to ensure a victory over visitors Benetton in Saturday’s URC joust at the Sportsground.

“We’ve got to win this week,” says Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins. “It’s not make or break, but it’s the next thing in front of us, and we’ve got to get it right.”

The Italian visitors arrive in Galway with a five-point lead in the URC table, ensuring Connacht need to produce a complete performance to catch their points tally. Particular emphasis will be on scoring efficiency after failing to “fire a shot” in their loss to Munster in Limerick last weekend.

Wilkins says the key stat was that Connacht gained access to Munster’s 22 on six occasions, compared with Munster’s 12.


“Going into that game, we were fairly even in terms of what we were averaging. There’s a reason why they doubled their opportunities – they looked after possession better than we did. And it’s because we conceded the penalties and gave them a platform.

“We didn’t get any reward for our possession we had, either from running or kicking, and ultimately that cost us field position and it cost in terms of opportunity. So that is something we’ve got to do better – it’s something we’re talking a lot about at the moment, and the proof will be in the pudding this weekend.”

Wilkins insists Connacht’s attacking averages need to improve, saying “it’s not where it needs to be”.

Although Connacht edged the possession and territorial stakes against Munster, their attacking stats lagged well behind Munster’s in terms of clean breaks (2-6), defenders beaten (8-13), and offloads (4-10).

“It’s something we were doing a lot of, I suppose, analysis, and a lot of training, but it needs to improve soon. It needs to improve quickly, because, you know, we see ourselves as competing in those knock-out stages of the URC. But we can’t dream of doing that if we’re not putting teams under pressure on the scoreboard either. So it’s a hot topic at the moment, and it’s up to us to turn that round.”

Despite the poor stats, Wilkins says Connacht now need to “embrace the pressure, channel it, and use it for energy and determination to do better”.

“We are going to do better. And, you know, we’re really honest with that, and we’re working hard to try to do so.”

While set pieces are functioning and opportunities are created, the bottom line is Connacht’s inability to make it count.

“We’ve got to be more accurate and more effective in finishing off those opportunities and turning them into points. And whether that’s close to the line, whether that’s in terms of back strike play, whether it’s in terms of our maul attack, all of those things are opportunities for us to score and we’ve got to score points.”