Tuesday 26 September 2017

Muldoon: We're in control of our destiny but can't take anything for granted

George Naoupu and Davide Giazzon tussle during Connacht’s clash with Treviso last October and it is expected to be another physical battle when the two teams square off again on Sunday
George Naoupu and Davide Giazzon tussle during Connacht’s clash with Treviso last October and it is expected to be another physical battle when the two teams square off again on Sunday

John Muldoon

Treviso are probably the side you need to analyse the most in the Pro12 and we won't be taking things lightly against them this weekend.

This is another massive game for us as we look to build momentum for the run-in. The results went our way last weekend and it was a welcome relief after what happened the week before.

At the start of the weekend you really had to take your hat off to Ulster - what a performance they put in, in the last ten minutes against Edinburgh.

They won that game despite having only 13 men on the field near the end, and they did us a real favour because the Scots were one of the form teams in the league prior to that.

On Saturday it was the turn of Munster in another thriller - we actually got called in from our captain's run to catch the last few minutes.

Scarlets were probably kicking themselves considering the position they were in with five minutes to go, but fair play to Munster for hanging on in there.

To get favours from the Irish provinces was great but we are tired of having to rely on results elsewhere to further our cause.

I think our performance against Dragons was a testament to that, and although people might point at them only having 14 men for much of the game, we still had to grind out the win.

Treacherous

If you had offered us four points prior to the game at Rodney Parade we certainly would have taken it. It's a place that no side likes to visit and is one of the most hostile atmospheres in the Pro12. We felt the brunt of that and the treacherous weather conditions didn't help either.

It just rained and rained for five or six hours before the game so it really felt like a big achievement to get the win. Then the match itself was a typical tough and physical encounter, they hit us early but we responded and dominated for much of the first half.

The red card was obviously a big moment in the game but as so often happens it spurred them on.

The crowd were getting on the referee's back for every decision and Dragons forced their way back into the game.

It certainly wasn't pretty. We made some silly errors that cost us a couple of tries but still we remained calm and it was good to see after what had happened in Wales the week before.

On a day where experience would normally win through, it was great for a young guy like Eoghan Masterson to play out of his skin.

He is still so young and he is improving all the time but he didn't give an inch against Dragons and rounded off a good performance with a try.

From speaking to a few of the guys in Corinthians he is their leader and they know how much of a talent he is - he is showing that now on a bigger stage.

Eoghan is one of a number of younger guys coming through the conveyor belt, and it won't be long until he is leading Connacht as well.

However, I won't be wishing him well tonight - his club Corinthians are taking on my team Galwegians in the Ulster Bank League at Crowley Park.

It's a huge game for both teams and if we can win and keep the pressure on with just four games remaining anything is possible.

We are top of 1B and Garryowen are coming up right behind us. Right now it's set up nicely for the last game of the season when we play them.

But back to Connacht and of course we play again on Sunday, the third Sunday in a row now, and it would be a huge step in the right direction if we could bank another four points.

Sometimes people can get carried away in these situations and start talking about the possibility of getting five points from this game but we just have to concentrate on the win first.

At this time of the year, momentum is the key to getting our Champions Cup qualification spot. Our destiny is in our hands.

But Treviso are coming here full of confidence - they put five tries past Cardiff Blues last weekend to beat them quite comprehensively.

We want the weather to be right so we can play an expansive game but they will want to win and they could come out throwing the ball around the park.

If they don't, they still have one of the most solid set-pieces in the Pro12 to work with.

They have a couple of big guys there and they use them brilliantly, they have so many lineout options, and then you come to the trick plays.

It was a long week in the analysis room for us and I wouldn't say we've all the plays in their book cracked just yet.

It's definitely going to be a tough one and we hope we can get a nice crowd out to the Sportsground, where I believe we'll be showing the all-important Ireland v England game on the big screens and in the bars beforehand.

It's certainly going to be the game of the Six Nations but the Connacht players won't be thinking about that on Sunday.

I'm sure Ireland won't be too worried about us either but I can't wait to get out at the Sportsground again.

Irish Independent

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