Monday 20 November 2017

Lam looks for answers after 'extremely frustrating' collapse

Connacht 15 Cardiff Blues 22

Connacht's Gavin Duffy with his two-year-old daughter Jessica
Connacht's Gavin Duffy with his two-year-old daughter Jessica
Connacht's Conor Gleeson offloads the ball following a tackle by Cardiff's Scott Andrews
Connacht's Eoin Griffin is tackled by Cardiff's Ellis Jenkins
Connacht's John Muldoon in action against Cardiff's Dafydd Hewitt
Connacht's Mick Kearney is tackled by Cardiff's Filo Paulo and Taufaao Filise
Connacht's Jason Harris-Wright is tackled by Cardiff's Macauley Cook, left, and Dan Fish

John Fallon

Connacht coach Pat Lam was the first to admit that this frustrating defeat summed up his maiden season in charge as his men folded when they seemingly had the game wrapped up.

"I'm disappointed for the guys and for the fans, for everybody because it was a great opportunity there to win the game," said Lam after seeing his team squander a 15-3 lead.

The manner of the defeat also looks set to cost them £10,000 for their academy. They were in pole position to win the fair play competition until both Aly Muldowney and Eoin McKeon were yellow-carded.

Lam agreed that discipline has been an issue in several games, with possession being coughed up and opportunities handed to the opposition by soft penalties.

"We were up 6-0 on the penalty count and I think in the second half it was 10-4. We'll go back and have a look at all of those and work out who's at fault and make sure we fix that. Discipline is our issue, so it was extremely frustrating," he said.

Lam is in the process of reshaping his squad and the changing of the guard saw emotional farewells to several players, with former skipper Gavin Duffy, Dan Parks and long-serving scrum-half Frank Murphy among those bowing out.

All three came on in the second half and were given a rapturous reception by the crowd.

They did not get to go out on a high despite Connacht dominating the opening half; the hosts had to be content with a 10-3 lead. Scrum-half Kieran Marmion was superb and created their only try with a sublime grubber which bounced up perfectly for Matt Healy to score his fifth of the campaign.

They led 10-0 after 26 minutes thanks to Miah Nikora's boot.

John Muldoon got over but was whistled back for a double movement, but it seemed not to matter especially when Robbie Henshaw touched down five minutes after the restart.

However it went downhill after that and they conceded two tries in three minutes, the first a penalty try and then a breakaway effort from Lewis Jones.

Full-back Dan Fish wrapped up Cardiff's fourth win in a row when they went wide and exposed the home cover 11 minutes from time to condemn Connacht to another highly frustrating loss.

Connacht – D Leader (G Duffy 62); D Poolman, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; M Nikora (D Parks 51), K Marmion (F Murphy 75); R Loughney (D Buckley 51), J Harris-Wright (D Heffernan 53), R Ah You (F Bealham 58), A Muldowney, M Kearney (M Swift 58), J Muldoon (capt), C Gilsenan (A Browne 58), E McKeon.

Cardiff Blues – D Fish; A Cuthbert, C Allen, D Hewitt, H Robinson; G Davies (S Humberstone 63), L Williams (L Jones 55); G Jenkins (T Davies 68), M Rees (capt) (K Dacey 68), T Filise (S Andrews 40), B Davies, F Paulo, M Cook, J Navidi, E Jenkins (L Hamilton 76).

Ref – N Paterson (SRU).

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