Wednesday 18 July 2018

I'm proud of our efforts at RDS but moral victories are no good

Player Diary

James Cannon of Connacht wins a lineout from Ross Molony of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 12 match between Leinster and Connacht at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
James Cannon of Connacht wins a lineout from Ross Molony of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 12 match between Leinster and Connacht at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

John Muldoon

Six points from the two inter-provincial derby games against Ulster and Leinster is an impressive haul, but we know we have lots of areas where we can improve, and hope to put them into play against a smarting Munster side at Thomond Park tomorrow.

We have already beaten Munster this season but this is a very different prospect, and after their defeats to Leinster and Ulster they will be a wounded animal looking for a big inter-pro victory before they head into the Champions Cup again.

For us, we are looking to build back the momentum we picked up against Ulster. It was a valiant effort at the RDS earlier this week but it wasn't good enough for the win, and moral victories just don't cut it.

It was a disappointing result but saying all that we have to take a lot of heart. It's never easy to go up to Leinster, and play them in their own back yard. They have a quality squad and they are the form team in Europe at the moment. Unfortunately, we weren't accurate enough to get the win in the end.

I am very proud in how the lads dug in, Leinster caused us a few issues in defence, but we fronted up well there and kept them at bay for much of the game.

It was a very good attitude from the lads and mental toughness to keep in the game even when Leinster looked like they could pull away. It's disappointing not to get the win but fair play to Leinster they showed some very good pieces of play throughout the game and they probably deserved the victory in the end.

review I was actually involved in the last Connacht squad that won up there. I was sitting in the review that week, I was in the academy at the time and it was a huge performance from us back then. It was a bit of a shock to go up to the old Donnybrook and win there.

I remember being involved, but I wouldn't have counted it because I was on the outside of the squad at the time. And this week we were very conscious of the fact that it was 2002 when we last won in Dublin. Now we still haven't won in the RDS and that is frustrating, so Connacht will have to go another year waiting.

We could have sneaked a win in the end. You always believe and hope. The way our other tries came it was in a very similar situation to what we found ourselves in.

But we dissected the game and looked back on it. There are definitely things we can improve on. We came very close to doing it but unfortunately we came away with just the losing bonus point.

And it doesn't get any easier with Munster down in Thomond Park this week. They will be licking their wounds after an unlucky loss against Ulster.

They were going very well, 17-0 up, but when there's a yellow and then red card, it becomes very difficult when you have conceded men on the pitch.

Munster will be all guns blazing for us. A good few of their Irish lads didn't play last weekend and they will be back in again. It will be a strong Munster team ready for us now and we will just have to give it our best shot.

It takes a while to get into the swing of things but we feel we are gelling together nicely now here at Connacht. We have a new coach and a new way of doing things. Nigel Carolan and Pete Wilkins are new to the coaching team too so it takes a bit of time to get used of the new approach.

There is a bit of getting know each other and there was a bit of a dip in form from some players. We all have to learn our new roles too. As we have been going through our reviews in recent months, you see people going out of system and reverting to type. That's not done by design, it's all about the pressure and fatigue of playing a game of rugby.

There have been one or two bad performances this year, we had got a bit of momentum going before the November break. When we came back we were disappointed to lose to Zebre but on their day they are very good.

They were just after coming back from November internationals too. A lot of their players were playing internationally and they were brilliant against us. While we were disappointed to lose over there, I don't think you can take away from Zebre. It was tough losing against the Italians and Cardiff Blues but in the last couple of weeks we have gained a lot from those games. A lot of players have worked hard and they are starting to get the reward from that.

I am immensely proud of the effort that was put in at the RDS and we need to bring that to the fortress that is Thomond Park now.

We will go down there with lots of confidence knowing that we have been playing pretty well. But Munster will be disappointed to have lost up here a few months ago.

They are also on a recovery mission after that loss to Leinster as well. It's two teams looking for a win and I'm sure both of us will be doing our utmost to try and get that performance and victory.

From our point of view, we just have to concentrate on our game. When we play our game right we are very good. We still haven't got that complete performance even though the win over Ulster was very good, we still did a lot of things wrong.

While we are happy to be going in the right direction we still have lots to improve on.

Irish Independent

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