Tuesday 16 July 2019

A home victory would banish our frustrations - Fergus McFadden in his own words

Missed opportunities prove costly in Galway but we can bounce back - especially with new faces on board

Leinster's Fergus McFadden is hoping to rebuild some momentum with victory over the Cardiff Blues
Leinster's Fergus McFadden is hoping to rebuild some momentum with victory over the Cardiff Blues

I suppose there is no getting away from it. The last few weeks have been tough and it has not been our best start to the new season.

An opening trip to Scotstoun for a game against the Glasgow Warriors is tricky at the best of times but we were ultimately four minutes away from a win. After letting the win slip away that day, we thankfully gathered a bit of momentum against the Scarlets the following week with a win.

It was a good boost for the squad getting the bonus point at home in the first outing in the RDS. The crowd played their part with over 16,000 packed in on a glorious day.

We played some good rugby and scored some nice team and individual tries. Unfortunately, I wasn't involved. Nothing too serious but I picked up a niggle earlier on in the week and there was no point risking it with plenty of rugby to be played over the coming weeks.

It was more precautionary to keep me off my feet which was the right call from our physios.

I was of course disappointed as after a long pre-season you just want to play some ball but it's a double-edged sword as the last thing you want either is to pick up a lengthy injury. So you listen to the physios and you listen to your own body as well.

At this time of year it's important to build momentum as a squad and individually leading into big Pro12 and Champions Cup games, so while disappointed to miss the Scarlets game, I was glad to come through training last week and to be passed fit for the trip back west.

We knew last week leading into the Connacht game that they were a team full of confidence after two wins on the bounce. The Sportsground has always been a difficult place to go to so we knew that if we were not at 100pc Connacht would make us pay.

I started on the right wing and after positive weather predictions during the week, it was a very wet and windy night in Galway. I felt we dealt with the harsh conditions quite well and in the first half we certainly played all the rugby.

As encouraging as our shape was in attack it did not show on the scoreboard. With the majority of possession and territory in the first half we failed to score a couple of tries from missed opportunities. Connacht rallied extremely well in defence and showed a lot of heart particularly when down to 14 men after they got a man sent to the bin.

The score at half-time did not flatter Leinster at 9-3 and it was one of those nights where you felt a five-pointer would be more like ten with such tough playing conditions but despite knocking on the door a few times we couldn't get that last pass away or make that incisive break.

Kieran Marmion scored a brilliant individual try in the second half and that proved to be the difference between us. As far as I was concerned we had dealt with everything else that came at us but sometimes moments of brilliance like that can be decisive. As I now look back, it was one of those days where missed opportunities in the first half proved too costly and it was very disappointing to come away with just one losing bonus point.

What the last few weeks have brought home is that the Pro12 league has really improved over the past few seasons. The standard has risen considerably with more teams becoming competitive. The addition of qualification into the Champions Cup via the Pro12 placings is undoubtedly a major factor. Teams know that every game and every point is crucial and while no title is won in September, the two losing points that we have picked up could yet prove vital.

This week is all about us. We know we did not give the best account of ourselves in these opening three games so I really think it's important for us to concentrate on our own performance. The league was so tight at the end of last year it's key for us to get a win this week at home to Cardiff Blues.

Kane Douglas (pictured opposite) arrived this week and has fitted in well already.

His quality will add hugely to our pack and it's mad to think of how competitive it's going to be for positions across the team this year.

That is before Ben Te'o arrives and adds even more competition!

Personally, I feel fresh and am relishing my first home game of the season. It's been a frustrating start for us but I feel this week is key to getting back to winning ways and with your help in blue hopefully we can get back to winning ways in the RDS this Friday night.

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