Wednesday 20 September 2017

Fuming Lam 'astonished' as vital calls go against hosts

Connacht head coach Pat Lam
Connacht head coach Pat Lam
David Kelly

David Kelly

Connacht coach Pat Lam was left baffled by a series of crucial calls from officials as his side sit rooted to the basement of the Pro12 after a second agonising defeat to Leinster this season.

At least Leinster could not crow about the Westerners' reluctance to play rugby as they had done so churlishly in Dublin. This time, it was the aristocrats who plied the route-one furrow while Connacht played all the rugby.

Sadly for Lam's lambs, Leinster got all the decisions.

The Samoan felt Jamie Heaslip, penalised for a late charge on Dan Parks, should not have been on the pitch to play a decisive role in the penalty and try that hauled his wheezing side over the line.

"Astonishing," he said. "I tell ya, I played for Samoa. We touch anyone around that area, we get blasted. It was pretty obvious. Everyone saw it.

"The officials saw it. You guys saw it. It was a surprising decision and the one for them to go ahead with the call saying it went backwards.

"I didn't see any ball going backwards which led to their penalty to go 9-8. It's frustrating but those are things we can't control. We are Connacht. What we are really disappointed with is the little errors that we make."

CONTEMPT

O'Connor predictably batted away Lam's complaints with all the dismissive contempt of compatriot Michael Clarke.

"Parks was lying down, he was smiling," said O'Connor. "It was a minor incident. Our bloke getting knocked out without the ball in the first half was a lot nastier."

Lam wasn't seeking excuses for defeat; he and his side know that Connacht's latest second-half implosion was primarily at fault.

On a much cheerier note, the introductions of young out-half Jack Carty and full-back Darragh Leader hinted at the ongoing stream of talent emerging through the estimable hands of Nigel Carolan's Academy.

Carty played as if a veteran and not a fresh-faced 21-year-old who somehow trumped his opponent so handsomely that he was withdrawn by Leinster; Leader (20) ruled the air and looks quite the prospect.

All the while, Robbie Henshaw oozed class and, while defensive issues must be sorted out, his scoring pass to Fionn Carr represented just one of his varied talents in attack.

"So much has been said about Robbie," said Lam. "Every game he goes from strength to strength. Robbie and Eoin Griffin, in the midfield, going up against the most experienced combination in world rugby held themselves really well.

"I felt, with the coaching staff, that this is a great opportunity to help Jack's development and he played very well."

Connacht have much to play for in Europe; they welcome Zebre next weekend and the return of openside Jake Heenan will boost spirits after a dispiriting setback.

Irish Independent

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