Tuesday 12 December 2017

Anthony Foley: Big display at Dragons can soothe derby pain

Munster players, including Dave Kilcoyne (centre) put the effort in at training
Munster players, including Dave Kilcoyne (centre) put the effort in at training

Anthony Foley

There is no denying that last weekend didn't go according to plan, but we'll be looking for an immediate response and an improved performance against the Dragons on Sunday.

We go into our derby games understanding that they are going to be hotly contested, so the real disappointing thing for us was the way we started the game.

We allowed Connacht too much possession; we didn't control the ball when we had it; and when it was there to be contested we lost those battles in the first half.

Connacht did play really well. They held on to the ball for a lot of phases and we were lucky to be only five points down at half-time with the number of missed tackles we had. From there we had a mountain to climb in the second half.

When we got into the game I thought we looked pretty good, but the problem was we were chasing it then. That first-half, I haven't seen it before and it was very frustrating.

It is bitterly disappointing when you go in at half-time and you have only 30pc of possession, you have the elements and you don't have the chance to play.

A lot of issues were addressed at half-time and I thought we reversed the trend of the first-half. I think we had 66pc of possession in the second half and we went from a position where we could have been well beaten to a position where we could have won the game.


It is never nice to lose at home, but losing to those that just live up the road is everything. We understand how hard the inter-pros are to win and they are always a massive test.

Watching what Connacht have done so far this year and having played against them in pre-season, they have been excellent. They are a hard team to beat and they deserve to be top of the table.

We know that losing at home to your neighbours is disappointing for our supporters, we all feel it.

It doesn't matter who you support or follow, unfortunately there are going to be low moments. That's when you back your supporters to support you.

I think we'll get that support as always - players didn't throw in the towel and people can see that.

I thought they were excellent in the second half and people will have seen the way they came back and the effort put in.

The boys fought tooth and nail in the second 40 and played a lot of very good rugby.

We could have taken more opportunities but didn't and we have already addressed that. We have played nine games this season, and we've only been beaten twice, with one of those games going against us in the last minute.

Even in defeat there were positive performances. Both Niall Scannell and Jamesie Cronin put in good shifts. You go through some of the individual performances and you say: 'good, well done'.

Niall has an opportunity at the moment. He's a former U-20 international, has captained his country at underage level, and sometimes you need a break and the break sometimes comes from other people's misfortune and injuries. It's good to see players taking opportunities when they get the chance.

Sunday's trip to Dragons is a tough test, we have never had it easy over there. It's important that we focus on ourselves and make sure we learn from recent mistakes.

With a lot of the issues you don't need a lot of footage to address it, so we will get our attitude right and make sure the players who are wearing the jersey against Dragons represent it for 80 minutes.

It's going to be a tough, tough game, they have a really good squad. Lyn Jones has done a very good job over there, he has put together a young group coupled with a lot of experienced players. They have a great spine to their team and with the youth they have around them they are very exciting to watch.

We need to make sure that we get our own performance up to the level required.

We just want to get back to the way we were playing before the first half of the Connacht game. The second half, you would take how players went about it: it wasn't perfect, but if we cut out one or two of the errors then we are in a much healthier position.

We were beaten at home and we just need to get a good 80 minutes into us to respond. A performance is needed come Sunday and we are focused on getting it right.

Irish Independent

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