Tuesday 17 September 2019

'It's gut-wrenching' - Connacht boss Andy Friend laments 'over-eagerness' as his side surrender 17-point lead to Leinster in 12 minutes

Bundee Aki of Connacht following the Guinness PRO14 Round 11 match between Leinster and Connacht at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Bundee Aki of Connacht following the Guinness PRO14 Round 11 match between Leinster and Connacht at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Connacht head coach Andy Friend could not hide his disappointment as his side surrendered a 17-point lead in the final quarter of their inter-provincial derby against Leinster at the RDS.

Andrew Porter's last-gasp try denied the Westerners a first win over their rivals in Dublin in 16 years.

Trailing by 17 points, the hosts reeled off tries from Sean Cronin, Dan Leavy and Porter in the final 12 minutes to move 16 points clear at the top of Conference B.

The defending champions, showing 12 changes from last week's European victory over Bath, were 19-7 down at half-time as Connacht's electric attack produced tries from Cian Kelleher, Darragh Leader and man-of-the-match Jack Carty, who converted two of them.

Scores from Academy centre Conor O'Brien and Mick Kearney - the first of his provincial career - kept Leinster in touch, only for Caolin Blade to bag the westerners' 47th-minute bonus point and Carty added a penalty. However, Leinster's bench eventually had the bigger say with that breathtaking three-try finish.

Friend was delighted with how his side played for three-quarters of the game but felt they got out of sync in the final portion of the game because they were over-zealous in defence.

"We had out chances but in the last 15 minutes we tightened up a little bit and didn't keep playing as we had been playing and when you do that against a champion side, they are going to take the opportunities," he said.

"I thought we managed the game for three-quarters of it very well but that last little bit we didn't manage well.

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"For 65 minutes we carried very well, we defended very well, our set-piece was strong but that's how it is. It's gut-wrenching, that one.

"Our defensive system has been working, out structure has been working. I will say with this group, it is not a lack of effort. It was probably over-eagerness and over-zealousness to make sure, 'I make that tackle' rather than sticking to the system. We'll have a look at that but that probably sticks in the mind at the minute."

Carty, described by his coach as a 'quality footballer' after his showing, was 'bitterly disappointed' with the manner of the defeat.

"In that last 15 minutes, I can't really put my finger on it but our (game) management and choice of kicks at stages in that second half could have been better," he said.

"That's something that myself and the half-backs have to look at. It's bitterly disappointing."

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