Connacht no match for slick Wasps outfit

Objective of pre-season fixture ‘to give everyone a chance’

Connacht’s Ronan Loughney is grounded by Wasps players. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

New Connacht coach Pat Lam is days away from narrowing his squad to a match-day 23 after involving 40 players in his two pre-season fixtures.

After a solid five-try display away to French champions Castres, Connacht were outgunned by a livelier Wasps outfit on Saturday.

Moreover, with two different starting XVs for each half, in addition to another eight replacements, the experimental squad failed to match the English Premiership side intent on making a winning return to Heineken Cup rugby next season.

Connacht centre Eoin Griffin grabbed his side's only try from a block-down in a competitive opening half, but a settled Wasps outfit bagged four tries for a comfortable victory. Lam, however, says the two friendlies have served their purpose.


Now the pre-season becomes more serious. And this week Lam will take 26 players to his former club Newcastle Falcons for the final warm-up. That could include Super 15 winning captain Craig Clarke, who was unveiled to the 3,400 supporters on Saturday.

“The key was to give everyone a chance to show us coaches what they can do . . . we wanted to see them under pressure and see how they react. It was more important to find out now than in a game that matters with four points at stake.”

Most of those youngsters will be playing with Nigel Carolan’s Eagles in Connacht’s second season in the B&I Cup, but Lam believes some are ready to be given an opportunity in the RaboDirect. “Some guys struggled, some of them are not far off, and I think some are ready . . . We got some good answers today and now it is about us building towards Zebre.”