Discipline will be key if Connacht are to dominate Brive

Kieran Keane’s side are in pole position in pool five, but can’t afford to be complacent

Connacht head coach Kieran Keane with backs coach Nigel Carolan at squad training in the Sportsground, Galway. “The most important thing for Connacht is consistency,” said Carolan. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Connacht head coach Kieran Keane with backs coach Nigel Carolan at squad training in the Sportsground, Galway. “The most important thing for Connacht is consistency,” said Carolan. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

 

Connacht’s principles of consistency and discipline will be under the microscope on Saturday when Brive travel to Galway for the second of the back-to-back European fixtures.

Kieran Keane’s side, in pole position in pool five, has the edge with a four-try bonus-point win in France, having fought back from a 16-point deficit, but now Connacht need to back it up to ensure they head into the Christmas interprovincials with momentum and confidence.

“The most important thing for Connacht is consistency. When you can go out and beat Munsters and Cheetahs, and then drop your standards,” says backs coach Nigel Carolan. “Hopefully the game against Brive is like Oyonnax in the first block. That kicked us off to a run of four wins and hopefully Brive can do the same. We have some games coming up and that level of consistency is really important.

“We can’t afford to be complacent. On our trips to Cardiff and Zebre, we failed to spark, but at home, certainly in the latter stages of the first block, we were good. We haven’t played here for a few weeks so the lads are looking forward to being back out in front of a festive home crowd, and producing the performance that can achieve the result we badly need again.”

Rolling maul

Brive’s rolling maul, which has been their number one weapon this season, did the early damage last Saturday, but Carolan insists it comes down to indiscipline.

“That is what Brive has doing in the Top 14 year. Unfortunately we had a player in the sin bin when they scored the first one, and on the second, a couple of our roles were wrong, so we will be working hard to address that this week to ensure we can do a better job if in that position. But to have put ourselves there in the first place was our own indiscipline, which allowed them access to our 22, so we have to ensure our discipline is better.

“We are playing on the edge, and there’s a fine line, and sometimes we get the wrong call, but we have to push the boat out. If we improve discipline, we would have more possession and we are dangerous when we have the ball.”

Connacht’s backs coach Nigel Carolan: “If we improve discipline, we would have more possession and we are dangerous when we have the ball.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Connacht’s backs coach Nigel Carolan: “If we improve discipline, we would have more possession and we are dangerous when we have the ball.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

With no fresh injuries from that 38-31 win in Brive, Connacht is hoping Eoin McKeon (hamstring), having returned to training, will be fit, while Craig Ronaldson (calf) and Peter Robb (hip) also came through the Eagles’ win over Richmond.

Carolan says while Connacht is not getting carried away, the team is starting to gel.

“We have grown massively as a team. It’s been a new approach how we play a game, and it’s taken time to bed in. We created opportunities and it’s down to the lads, down to the way we play. It is not a prescribed process, it’s figuring it out, and there are mistakes along the way, but it does produce some outstanding phases of play and creates opportunities to score, and we have to be clinical enough to score those.”

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