Saturday 20 January 2018

Frustration to Continue but Lam's Fury Should Provoke Positive Response

Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Toulouse v Connacht

Stade Ernest-Wallon, 3.0

Sky Sports 2 (red button)

Seemingly the video review of Connacht's capitulation against Edinburgh last week was the point at which Pat Lam blew a head gasket. He would have known when he came into the job that he would have to take the bonnet off at some point – rather it was a case of exactly where on the road he would have to pull over.

Following Connacht when they are playing woefully is hard. Following Connacht when they are sometimes playing pretty well but failing to ram the point home is probably far more frustrating.The Edinburgh defeat last weekend was a case in point. With minor tweaks in the way things were unfolding they could have stuck 18 points on the scoreboard in the first half and loaded on the pressure. Instead they finished up losing 42-10.

"In the end it turned into a hammering," he said. "I think that was the disappointing part of it. When you go back and we have had a thorough review of it, we should have been way ahead. "It's all well and good saying that but we prove that in the review, in how many errors we made, how many turnovers we made at crucial times. We had try-scoring opportunities and then we gave away penalties and next thing we have gone from 10-3 up, 10-6, 10-9, 16-10, 19-10, 22-10, you know for silly things. Then you are chasing the game with five to go and there you go."

Interestingly, at that review he told the players that he wouldn't be turfing out half the team, rather they could go and clean up their own mess. Check out the strength of the Toulouse squad – they have seven wins from their last 10 in all competitions, whereas Connacht's only two wins this season have been against Zebre – and you see the scale of the task he has set them.

In the circumstances plus 25 points seems stingy allowance on the handicap but don't be surprised if they beat that. Their set-piece has been good all season and now that Craig Clarke has been installed as their sole captain, rather than passing it around a committee, he can get on with things. Despite the wretched record this is not a group looking not to play rugby.

Toulouse: C Poitrenaud; Y Huget, F Fritz, Y David, H Gear; JP Baraque, J Vermaak; G Steenkamp, C Ralapele, C Johnston, E Maka, Y Maestri, Y Camara, L Picamoles, T Dusatoir (capt). Reps: J Brevgadje, S Fereira, Y Montes, R Millo Chluski, C Tolofua, M Doussain, L Beauxis, L Matavanou

Connacht: R Henshaw; F Carr, E Griffin, D McSharry, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, S Henry, N White; M Kearney, C Clarke (capt); J Muldoon, J Heenan, G Naoupu. Reps: J Harris Wright, D Buckley, R Ah You, M Swift, E McKeon, F Murphy, C Ronaldson, G Duffy.

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy)

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