Lam disappointed by Connacht’s missed opportunities

Lack of clinical execution costs his side dear as injury toll continues to mount

Connacht’s Dan Parks kicks.  ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Connacht’s Dan Parks kicks. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne


The Pro 12 table may not make pretty reading for Pat Lam’s Connacht, but the Kiwi coach is adamant perseverance is the key for his injury-hit squad.

With Connacht propping up the bottom of the table with just one win as the league breaks for the autumn internationals, Lam had reason to be more disappointed with Saturday’s defeat to Glasgow than the narrow losses suffered previously. A losing bonus point was one positive, but Connacht created sufficient opportunities to win- albeit against one of the strongest defensive units in the league — and a lack of clinical execution has been a continuing thread throughout the season to date.

“At the end of the day we were not clinical enough. We turned the ball over at kick-offs or at the back of the scrum which gave them ball, and on the back of that our defence gave them far too much outage, particularly in the second half.”

A mitigating factor is the amount of injuries Connacht have suffered, and there were more addition after Saturday’s Sportsground fixture with Jake Heenan – one of three backrow players still standing – Kieron Marmion and Brett Wilkinson all taking knocks.

‘Bare bones’
“We are struggling on bare bones at the moment. We have had four or five big physical games on the trot. If you look at Jake Heenan, who has been battered right through, with 30 minutes to go he strained medial ligaments, but he wanted to stay on because we had no more backrow players. “

“Our training has been disrupted because we have no guys to fill in the holes, particularly in backrow and midfield – that’s not an excuse, it’s just reality where we are at, and the break cannot come at a better time for us to get some injured back, boost our squad and get refreshed.”

Gregor Townsend’s Warriors were missing players through international commitments, but with the wind at their backs, they scored the game’s only try after six minutes through DTH van de Merwe.

Battering the line
Outhalf Duncan Weir added the first of his 14 point haul, while Connacht’s only first-half points came from a Dan Parks 14th minute effort Connacht finished the half battering the Scots’ line and continued after the break when Parks reduced the arrears to seven points.

The deficit remained at seven until the 69th minute when replacement outhalf Craig Ronaldson provided the platform with a superb attack into the Glasgow 22. Camped on the line, Connacht opted to take their kick at goal when replacement tighthead Ed Kalman was penalised for collapsing the scrum.

Although it left just four between the sides, the home side gifted Glasgow the initiative when once again failing to deal with the restart.

As result Weir added his fourth penalty two minutes from time after Mata Fifita was binned for a high and late tackle on the influential Niko Matawalu, ensuring the Scottish outfit maintained their push for title honours with their sixth win.

Lam, however, is unconcerned with Connacht’s current league standing, particularly with the arrival of skills coach Dave Ellis last week.

“We just have to continue to build. I would be concerned if we were getting smashed by teams or getting a hiding with no chance and no opportunity, but every game we have had a chance of winning.

“At the moment a lot of character has been shown, but we are up against some of the better teams. We have run them close but haven’t quite nailed it. We have to persevere and it will come. “

There is along way to go. You only have to look at Edinburgh to see that if you win a couple of games, you climb up the table. It’s a pretty tight competition. No one is shooting ahead so it doesn’t take much.”

CONNACHT: G Duffy; F Carr, D Leader, D McSharry, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You; M Swift (cpt), C Clarke; M Fifita, J Heenan, G Naoupu. Replacements: P O’Donohoe for Marmion (27 mins), D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (54 mins), N White for Ah You (55 mins), M Kearney for Swift, C Ronaldson for Parks (both 57mins), A Muldowney for Naoupu (74 mins), JP Cooney for Wilkinson (77 mins).
GLASGOW: N Matawalu; B McGuigan, M Bennett, G Ascarate, DTH van der Merwe; D Weir, C Cusiter (cpt); G Reid, D Hall, J Welsh; T Ryder, J Gray; R Harley, C Fusaro, J Strauss. Replacements: E Kalman for Welsh (47 mins), M Low for Reid (55 mins), F Brown for Hall (61 mins), T Holmes for Fusaro (63 mins). L Nakarawa for Gray (67 mins), R Vernon for Strauss (74 mins).
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland).