Saturday 21 September 2019

Player's Diary: Ospreys loss was our own doing and we want to make up for it now

Brave face: A dejected Jarrad Butler leads his side off the field after last week’s defeat to Ospreys. Picture:Sportsfile
Brave face: A dejected Jarrad Butler leads his side off the field after last week’s defeat to Ospreys. Picture:Sportsfile

Tiernan O'Halloran

We're back with our home comforts this weekend, and desperate to head into the break with a win over Dragons. It would be a huge confidence-booster but we also owe this one to our fans.

There was no excuse for that defeat at Ospreys. We should have won the game. Some silly errors cost us, and it culminated in an agonising conclusion. We never want to put ourselves in that situation, with all of our hopes resting on a TMO call, again.

We are used to playing in the Liberty Stadium over there and it was a bit of a different feel to it in Bridgend. But we got plenty of notice that the game was going to be played there. We knew the facilities were going to be of a certain standard and it was something that we got our heads around.

It is a small ground; the pitch is a lot different to the soccer pitch in the Liberty. That was a challenge in itself but we need to be able to overcome these small obstacles. We let ourselves down with the performance we put out on the pitch.

Ridiculous

Any kick that we sent down the field they were sending it right back. That was their game-plan off all counter-attacking and exits, just kicking it. There were 77 kicks in that game. That is a ridiculous amount and it's one of the highest I've ever seen.

We probably didn't come out on the right side of that kicking battle. We got dragged into it when we shouldn't have.

Their game-plan worked, and we didn't figure out how to deal with it until half-time when we talked about it. It was a bit easier with the wind to get field position in that second half. But it ended up being too little, too late.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

It was a tough situation. To get to the 78th minute. We had got ourselves back into a very scrappy game. We hadn't played well at all but we did get ourselves back and we fought hard to do that. Unfortunately, we missed a drop-goal but we set ourselves up to have a go from the drop-out. We were just going backwards and backwards in our attack and that didn't work. It came back and at that stage when we were defending like that we would have taken a draw.

But they got their line-break. It went to the TMO and in circumstances like that it can be very tough. But the big thing we realised in the changing room after is we didn't lose that game late, we lost it in the first few minutes when they got their tries and we had some costly errors.

We take it on the chin. From my own point of view, I had a very tough game. I wasn't proud of my performance at all. That is something for me to look at. How I prepared for the game and what I can do better as well.

That's all part of the review work and the tough side of rugby. You are going to have your good and bad days. It's how you bounce back from it that's important. We didn't fly back until Saturday. And if things couldn't get worse, when we were in the airport and the lads were a bit down, the intercom comes on and says the flight is delayed for another two hours.

It can be tough after a loss like that but that's part of how we do travel. Galway is not the easiest place to get to. We are well used to different modes of travel, and the different obstacles there. That was after the game though, so we certainly can't blame that. You just have to get over it and try get a bit more of your review work done in preparation for Monday.

We have all the Hudl App now for our review. You can do all of your analysis work on that. Our heads were in our phones doing that stuff in the airport on Saturday. Some lads could be watching Netflix, listening to music, each to their own. It's whatever makes the time fly for you, and I just tried to get a head start.

Coming in on a Monday morning after a loss like that can be very tough but you have to face it head on. There were tough chats had. You have to be able to take that. We had a good review and dusted ourselves off. It's all eyes on Dragons this weekend and the last game of a tough block.

The great thing about it is if we can finish with a win tomorrow, going into a two-week break it changes everything. You have the anger of frustration of what happened in Wales last weekend but that can be flipped on its head straight away.

Wrongs

You want to right the wrongs of last weekend. To do that in front of your home crowd in the Sportsground would give us a huge lift. It would be great to put out a performance that we can be proud of. We let ourselves and the whole of Connacht Rugby down with how we performed.

Ireland play this weekend too and three of the lads have been selected to go face Italy. It will be a great experience. Finlay Bealham was involved the last time in Soldier Field as well. He has always talked very highly of that stadium and the occasion. Hopefully the guys get their chance.

If we get a chance we will watch the match and cheer them on. A few of us usually group together in one of the lads' houses and watch a game like that. It's always nice to be able to support your team-mates.

It's been a tough ten weeks. We have probably been a bit inconsistent in our performances. There are going to be plenty of things to work on. But it will be nice to get the break to refresh. I just want to get a week away and switch off. Then I can start to get focused and match-ready again.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport