Sunday 19 November 2017

Dragons win a massive boost to our top-six aim

Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson, tackled by Dragons’ Nick Crosswell, got his try and continues to grow
Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson, tackled by Dragons’ Nick Crosswell, got his try and continues to grow

Dan McFarland

We came away from Rodney Parade with an important win last weekend and we will go through the normal processes of review and preparation for the visit of Treviso on Sunday.

It's a big weekend of rugby, with Ireland playing England as well, but we are completely focused on our job against the Italians who are playing well at the moment.

Round 15 was good to us: Edinburgh lost and Scarlets drew, so our win put us back in pole position in the race for sixth spot. With Ospreys slipping up, they are coming back a bit to us so it's getting very interesting.

But the important thing was the victory away to Dragons because it is such a difficult place to go and the conditions were terrible.

We were certainly helped by their captain getting himself sent off.

At that stage it might have looked like the bonus point was on for us but the most important issue was to get four points.

Initially there was certainly a little sense of disappointment about not getting the bonus, but to be fair to Dragons, the sending off, as is often the case, galvanised them - especially when we missed the opportunities to put some points on the board directly afterwards. That lifted them.

Remember, this was a Dragons side that were on a high after the win in Leinster the previous week.


We knew we had to start well and we put them under pressure early on. For the most part were able to control the game enough to stay out of danger on what could have been a tricky afternoon.

Rodney Parade is always a pretty hostile atmosphere and the fans can get on the referee's back when they feel the calls aren't going their way.

We were very disappointed with the outcomes from our scrummaging - having pushed them off two of their own balls, all of a sudden penalties started to go against us when they were down to seven, and going backwards.

To be fair to the referee, the collapses were happening on the side where he was relying on his assistants.

But all we can do is look after our own game and from that side of things I was reasonably pleased with what I saw from the guys up front.

We controlled the lineout, winning our own ball extremely well and we managed to disrupt a lot of their ball - central to that was second-row Aly Muldowney, who was a huge presence.

There were good performances all over the pitch. The back row did really well - Eoghan Masterson got his try and continues to grow, while John Muldoon and Jake Heenan were great in open play. It's really great to see Jake back playing.

It will have to be more of the same from the guys this week because we expect a big set-piece game against Treviso.

They are always very good in the scrum and lineout,d they have big men all over the park and they can often produce interesting shapes and moves.

They will be buoyed by their big win over Cardiff; the Welsh side's defence wasn't great but still, Treviso put them to the sword. Any time you score 40 points and five tries in the Pro12 you have to be happy.

Treviso are renowned for their lineout but it depends on who is playing for them - Corniel Van Zyl is a good lineout option. Traditionally they have been very creative in their set-piece.

It is all process-orientated on Sunday - we will put a game-plan in place and try and execute that to the best of our ability.

Although it's good to see other results go your way in the league, our own performance is the variable we have control over and that requires our total focus.

The national side have a huge game on Sunday as well in a Grand Slam eliminator against England.

It is great that Ireland have a few key players back fit now with game-time under their belts and that should stand to them at the weekend.

The battle up front could be where the game is won and lost; you don't want to get dominated there against England because you could have a long day ahead of you if that happens.

But that's for the Ireland coaches to worry about and we will have our minds completely focused on Treviso - hopefully it can be a good weekend all round.

Irish Independent

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