Friday 19 January 2018

Happy but by no means satisfied with our lot

Niyi Adeolokun scores a try for Connacht in Parma despite thebest efforts of Zebre's Tommaso Boni (SPORTSFILE)
Niyi Adeolokun scores a try for Connacht in Parma despite thebest efforts of Zebre's Tommaso Boni (SPORTSFILE)

Pat Lam

Travelling to Italy is always a long trip and we didn't manage to get a flight back home until late on Sunday night after a Saturday afternoon game. But as I said last week, we took advantage of the time together, which is important.

It was great on Sunday to see the boys have the chance to chill out in sunny Parma enjoying some gelato and a coffee together after an early morning recovery pool session.

There were a lot of sore bodies after that game and a good few injuries but the mood was good with another five points in the bag.

Last week we spoke about going to play Zebre in their home ground and what we expected from them. They were certainly up for that game and when you have two teams who want to play rugby going hard against each other it's going to be very entertaining.

The ground and conditions were a lot different to the wet, muddy pitches we've been training and playing on recently so it was certainly a bit of a shock to the boys and the lungs were tested.

We were very pleased with a lot of what we did - not many teams will go to Zebre and put 50 points on them. We were disappointed with the scores we conceded which were down to our mistakes but when you're playing that type of expansive game that is non-stop, it's more likely you're going to have tired bodies that lead to mistakes and lapses in defence.


That's a big learning we've taken from the game and we've started to implement plans to adapt our training now that the weather is improving.

We didn't get back to Galway until 1am Monday morning so it was 11am before we brought the boys in and we had a light enough day at the start of the week. By Tuesday, the energy was up and we needed it for what was a tough session. Thankfully the sun was shining over the Sportsground so spirits were high.

We also had a junior cup team in from St Paul's Oughterard who had won a competition with Top Oil to spend the day observing the senior squad and enjoy a training session of their own in the afternoon.

It was a great day and a wonderful reminder of the genuine rugby talent and hunger there is around the province. We really enjoyed having them here.

We're happy with where we are at the moment but by no means satisfied. The last time we were top of the table after the Munster win, we then suffered a few defeats.

We were very close in those games but we had to ask ourselves did we get complacent? Were we doing absolutely everything possible individually in terms of our preparation?

We've learnt a lot from that period and we don't want to let that happen again. Every week, we have to step up everything we do, not just our rugby but in all the small detail in the lead-up to the game.

Ospreys will be a very different challenge again for us this week. They are probably a different team to the one we faced in October and have really found their form in recent weeks, only losing one of their last nine games and winning the last three on the road, so they will come here with a lot of hope.

But we can take a lot of confidence in our own performances, and the fact that we are back at the Sportsground is a massive boost. It's been four weeks since the last home game and the crowd for that Scarlets game was incredible. It's set up to be a smashing day, even with the weather, so we're really looking forward to it.

It will be a great day of rugby with Ireland taking on England in Twickenham earlier that afternoon. It's fantastic to see our Connacht boys representing once again and what a huge opportunity for young Ultan Dillane to hopefully get his first international cap.

It's a big occasion but Ultan has been the 24th man in the last two games so he knows what the build-up is about. He has worked hard to get to where he is and his time in the camp building relationships with the senior players around him will hold him in good stead to perform well.

It's a huge game for Ireland and we'll definitely be listening in for the result but with our own game here, we'll be fully focused on that.

We are determined to put in a performance in front of a packed-out Sportsground and get the points on offer to stay top of the table.

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