I’m not sure I’ve ever been as nervous about a game as I was last week. I was on tenterhooks every day waiting for a morsel of news, but it was pointless because no matter the news it was impossible to decipher what effect it might have on the game. Connacht had beaten Townsend’s Glasgow once in 10 attempts, and were setting out to do it again, to go one better than they’d ever done before and achieve a final. Glasgow were out to retain their title and be the first team to win an away semi. Given their depth, their internationals, their experience, their historic comfort playing Connacht, it seemed more than reasonable that they should win, hence why I didn’t offer a prediction last week.
Going into this game, I was not particularly confident. Having achieved our best ever finish, and qualified for the semis, but also lost to Treviso, I feared that there was a chance Connacht may be running on fumes, and Glasgow in comparison seemed to be on a mission, coming into form at the right time in the season.
After a few minutes and Finlay having to leave the field these fears worsened, as Rodney had not had a particularly memorable game against Treviso and has never been an 80 minute player. Glasgow were all over Connacht in the first 15 minutes, bursting out of the traps to put pressure on in our 22, forcing penalties and rucking frenetically. It looked bad. Continue reading
Connacht 7 – Leinster 6
Rarely have we seen a game of finer margins. Against Edinburgh I never really felt we were in danger, but against Leinster tonight I’m not sure I ever really believed we were winning.
Some thoughts since my last post:
My first away game and first game of the season since I moved over here. Great atmosphere for the most part, great laughs from the lads behind us, great rugby on show – overall a top night. Some concerns have been voiced about our defence in the second half but you must remember we never went behind in that game is which is huge in my opinion. Fields of Athenry bouncing around Murrayfield at the end was fantastic. One player seemed to appreciate it more than anyone, that being John Muldoon. He’s finally getting some rewards for sticking with his home province, and is even starting to grow into a fully formed captain. A lot of the time to be successful you need players who’ve been around in the bad old days to push the younger guys. I realize this is the first season Connacht have had more wins than losses so the ‘bad old days’ are still pretty recent for the majority of the team, but regardless, it all feeds into the desire to push on and continue to improve. Continue reading
What does winning mean – Part Deux
A year or more ago now I asked what does winning mean to this Connacht team. Due to the current injury crisis there is a growing debate on the Connacht Clan specifically about the Newcastle game tomorrow and what can be expected from the Challenge Cup this season, which relates to this question. There are a lot of interesting factors at play here, which I want to spread out into a more general discussion of winning.
Cardiff 20: Connacht 16.
The streak is over.
Before the game I said felt that if we couldn’t back up last weeks performance then it would mean we haven’t progressed as much as I hoped. We didn’t get the win we maybe should have gotten or possibly even deserved, but given the extenuating circumstances, even though the team and supporters are hurting, we shouldn’t get too down about this result.
To say that Connacht’s victory over Munster was a long time coming would be an understatement, but the manner of the victory has blown many commentators away. On a weekend when most teams were content to keep things tight Connacht illustrated the skills and invention that have characterized Lam’s time in charge. In truth this was also a victory for Lam’s coaching. Difficult games in the first season where we could not buy a point in the second half and frequently attempted to play out of our own half without knowing how to do that now feel like a long time ago. We now have a squad that are not only comfortable with ball in hand but are capable of assessing their options quickly and consistently put their opposition on the back foot, with threats from anywhere on the field and in any jersey number.