Sunday 23 April 2017

Young guns will learn from basic errors -- Elwood

Ospreys 26 Connacht 9

John Fallon

Connacht are counting the cost of yet another loss at Liberty Stadium with scans today to reveal how long centre Mata Fifita and versatile forward George Naoupu will be out of action.

Both players limped off in the opening half and it is feared that Fifita could be sidelined for a lengthy spell with suspected medial knee ligament damage, while Naoupu could also be out with a leg injury.

"We will know the extent of the damage when they have scans. It is feared that Mata could be out for a while, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that George's is not as bad," said Elwood.

He said that it was disappointing not to get anything from Saturday's clash where basic mistakes were ruthlessly punished by the reigning Pro12 champions.


Elwood's youth policy continues to work with 19-year-old Darragh Leader slotting in well at full-back in a backline which included three other players no older than 21.

"I thought Darragh did well and didn't look out of place at this level and he will benefit a lot from stepping up to this grade, the same way the other young lads have done this season," said Elwood.

"One lesson they will learn is that at this level if you give openings to the likes of Ospreys, they will punish you. But I thought we worked hard and deserved something from the game."

Connacht did well to concede just one try as Ospreys controlled the opening quarter, with promising winger Eli Walker getting over after 15 minutes.

Two Dan Parks penalties hauled Connacht back into contention and with John Muldoon and Michael Swift leading a good challenge up front, it seemed the Westerners would keep their hopes alive of a first ever win at Liberty Stadium.

But all that changed when they coughed up two tries either side of the interval, with Justin Tipuric getting over to put Ospreys 12-6 in front at the break.

Connacht owned the ball after the restart, but Ospreys No 8 Jonathan Thomas intercepted a pass from Parks and sauntered over from 35 metres.

"Those two tries left us with just too much to do. And yet with 15 minutes left we had a chance to get within sight of a bonus point but did not take it," said Elwood.

Parks failed by a metre to land his fourth penalty with an effort from just inside halfway and it was Ospreys who controlled the final moments as they went in search of a first try bonus point this season.

Connacht held them at bay but then four minutes from time impressive scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i tapped a penalty from close range and squirmed over to seal all five points.

Ospreys --R Fussell (M Morgan 78); H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, K Fotuali'I (R Webb 78); R Bevington (D Jones 50), R Hibbard, A Jones; A Wyn Jones, I Evans (J King 70); J Bearman, J Tipuric, J Thomas.

Connacht -- D Leader; T O'Halloran, R Henshaw, M Fifita (D Poolman 31), F Vainikolo; D Parks (M Nikora 75), K Marmion (D Moore 50); B Wilkinson (R Ah You 57), J Harris-Wright (A Flavin 62), N White (R Loughney 67); M Swift, G Naoupu (D Gannon 38); J Muldoon, W Faloon ( J O'Connor 50), E McKeon.

Ref -- G Clancy (IRFU).

Irish Independent

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