Saturday 16 December 2017

I'd only be concerned if we were getting hidings every week, insists Lam

Connacht 12 Glasgow 19

Fionn Carr cuts a disappointing figure after losing
Fionn Carr cuts a disappointing figure after losing

Declan Rooney

It's eight years since Connacht had as bad a start to their league season as this.

One win from their seven opening games – against Zebre on the first day of the season – is hardly the start to his tenure that Pat Lam wanted out west, but facing into a three-week break, the coach insisted he is not worried to see his side propping up the table.

"I'm not concerned," he said. "I'd be concerned if we were being smashed, I'd be concerned if we were getting a hiding with no chances and no opportunities.

"When you weigh everything up, as I said at the beginning, we have the least internationals playing, which means experience and decisions. What we do have is an injury-hit squad.

"I'd be concerned if we had a full squad getting done by 20 or 30 points every game and we had no chance of winning games.

"There is a lot of character being shown, particularly with a lot of guys not there, but we've come up against some of the better teams. We've run them close, had chances and we haven't quite nailed them. But there is a long way to go."

On a stormy night at the Sportsground, Gregor Townsend's visitors coped far better in the tempest than the home team.

DTH van der Merwe's sixth-minute try and an exemplary kicking display from Duncan Weir gave Glasgow the win and left Lam scrambling for optimism.

"It is a positive to get a bonus point; a positive that we were in it right to the end; it's a positive that against Glasgow, a tough side, we were able to be there right to the end to try and compete," he said.

"Glasgow have only conceded three tries all season. They don't let too many tries in. The ones that you do get, you have to be very clinical and we weren't."

In must be said that Connacht were operating with a threadbare squad on Saturday. Injuries to John Muldoon, Andrew Browne and Willie Faloon meant the clearly hampered Jake Heenan had to struggle on without a back-row replacement on the bench.

LIMPED

And worse again, the in-form Kieran Marmion limped off after 30 minutes with a hip flexor strain.

But for the Scottish side, after a week of turmoil that saw them lose their unbeaten record to Munster and have Niko Matawalu cited, but then cleared, for allegedly biting Donncha O'Callaghan, the win in Galway was the perfect tonic.

"We know how tough Connacht are here and we were missing a number of players on Scotland duty, but the players who came in did a fantastic job for us," said Townsend. "We now have the two-week break for the internationals to look forward to, but we'll go back and prepare with a bit of confidence on the back of that win."

Connacht – G Duffy; F Carr, D Leader, D McSharry, M Healy; D Parks (C Ronaldson 58), K Marmion (P O'Donohoe 27); B Wilkinson (JP Cooney 76), J Harris-Wright (D Heffernan 55), R Ah You (N White 56); M Swift (capt, M Kearney 56), C Clarke; M Fifita, J Heenan, G Naoupu (A Muldowney 67).

Glasgow Warriors – N Matawalu; B McGuigan, M Bennett, G Ascarate, DTH Van Der Merwe; D Weir, C Cusiter (capt); G Reid (M Low 56), D Hall (F Brown 62), J Welsh (E Kalman 47); J Gray (L Nakarawa 67), T Ryder; R Harley, C Fusaro (T Holmes 62), J Strauss (R Vernon 70).

Ref – N Paterson (SRU).

Irish Independent

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