Sunday 24 September 2017

Lam backs young stars to push for Ireland honours

Connacht 14 Edinburgh 9

Connaght's Darragh Leader tackles Edinburgh's Mike Coman during the match
Connaght's Darragh Leader tackles Edinburgh's Mike Coman during the match
Connacht's Jack Carty converts a penalty during the Guinness PRO12, Round 6 clash with Edinburgh
Connacht's Bundee Aki, Connacht, is tackled by Edinburgh's Sam Beard

Declan Rooney

Robbie Henshaw will be back to boost Connacht's charge up the Pro12 table next week, but Pat Lam faces a headache over where to accommodate the Ireland star.

In Henshaw's absence there have been plenty of strong performances from the Connacht backs - if Jack Carty, Matt Healy, Kieran Marmion and Tiernan O'Halloran keep up this form, the international contingent out west could soon swell.

O'Halloran's 11th-minute try proved the difference between the sides as three Carty penalties cancelled out three kicks from Edinburgh.

And Lam has been most impressed with the full-back, who last week was named stand-in skipper, claimed a Connacht player of the month and followed it with another man-of-the-match award on Saturday.

"You can see why I made him captain last week," said Lam, whose side sit in second place in the Pro12 table after their fifth win from six.

"Last year was a real breakthrough for him, just to realise how good he can be.

"Once he got that he put a lot of work into his game and he has matured as a person and a rugby player. He's one of our big leaders on and off the field.

"It's not just him. . . we don't have many internationals: we have guys who aren't capped yet. That's what these guys aspire to."

Other than Connacht's 20th try of the season - a well executed move off the top of a lineout - there was little attacking play of note on Saturday as physicality and defence ruled the day.

But Lam seemed particularly happy that his side managed to produce a play based on a deficiency they'd spotted during their analysis of Edinburgh.

"As a coaching staff and players, there is a real big buzz when we do it over and over again and 'bang' it happens. Particular when we see it in the analysis and we realise there could be a potential hole there," he said.

"Everyone's got a role. If you go back and look at it you'll see the lines that everyone runs there's key jobs, right from the way Tom McCartney throws it.

"Once we work out what the defence might give us, we chose that one, and it worked a treat."

Connacht - T O'Halloran (N Adeolokun 72); D Leader, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion (I Porter 70); D Buckley (F Bealham 74), T McCartney (D Heffernan 72), R Ah You (N White 48); A Muldowney (Q Roux 48-75), A Browne; J Muldoon, N Fox-Matamua, E Masterson (E McKeon 63).

Edinburgh - B Kinghorn (N McLennan h-t); D Hoyland, C Dean, S Beard, W Helu; P Burleigh (D Fife 67), S Hidalgo-Clyne; R Sutherland (A Dell 67), N Cochrane (G Turner 67), J Andress (S Berghan 67); A Bresler (A Toolis 63), F McKenzie; M Coman, R Grant, N Manu (C Du Preez 48).

Ref - L Hodges (WRU)

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