Monday 11 December 2017

O'Halloran vows to go on the offensive in Toulouse clash

O’Halloran: "Going over there you’re not going to get that many opportunities to score tries." Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Connacht full-back Tiernan O'Halloran has unveiled the attacking blueprint that can seal his side a historic quarter-final berth by downing French giants Toulouse at the famed Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday.

"You saw them over here, they're colossal men, they dwarf our fellas," said O'Halloran of the Round 1 clash in Galway when the stunning forward power of the French outfit enabled them to post a 21-11 interval lead.

However, O'Halloran added to Craig Ronaldson's first-half try before Bundee Aki's sweeping final-quarter effort completed a remarkable comeback, condemning Toulouse to their fifth successive European defeat on the road.

"We try to move the ball around the park to get their bigger lads moving. Hopefully that will cause a slight lapse in concentration at a key moment and we can capitalise," said O'Halloran.

"That's the key issue, if we get any sniff of anything we have to capitalise, we have to execute. Because going over there you're not going to get that many opportunities to score tries.

"It's important that detail is there when we run any type of line or any set-play, that we're really spot-on."


Given Connacht's travails up front against Toulouse last time out, they could really do without leaving Denis Buckley at home but the fears are growing that they may have to do so as they await the results of scans on his injured foot.

Even Zebre posted some difficulties in that area on Saturday and, given that the hapless minnows also dotted down three times, defence is another area of concern, as Toulouse could still qualify with a try bonus point.

Connacht are trying to avoid becoming mired in permutations but a 3-0 defeat could, bizarrely, be just as amenable to qualification as a 3-0 win; a high-scoring encounter, on the other hand, may invite peril.

"They're pretty direct with some big guys," says O'Halloran, who has made a record 525 metres thus far in Europe but will struggle for every inch this weekend as he seeks to stem, as well as create, attacking threats.

"If you don't get a proper axe focus or low tackle focus - against those big guys, if you're going high you'll be on the back foot all day.

"That's why we're going there to win. Because if you're trying to defend all day and soak it up, eventually you're going to tire and they'll start running in tries.

"We have to have that mentality to go over and play rugby, not just to kick the ball. Because they will crack you. We got that re-affirmed at half-time - Pat was pretty disappointed with our defence."

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