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'It's all on the line': Lam rues calamitous Connacht defence, but emphasis firmly on European play-off

“We have numbers, but we’re not connecting.”

IT’S BEEN A few weeks since Pat Lam publicly placed all Connacht’s eggs in the one Champions Cup play-off basket.

Pat Lam before the match Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

But despite there being little consequence for their back-to-back bonus point defeats to end their reign as Pro12 champions, the head coach was left livid with aspects of yesterday’s 50 – 14 trouncing at the hands of Munster.

The Samoan arrived in the post-match press conference with a purposeful stride, declining a seat as he signaled a ‘short and sharp’ post-match inquisition.

His message thereafter was clear: the result here didn’t really matter a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but the performance threw up a multitude of work-ons.

The western province gave up seven tries in all as Munster powered to the top of the final Pro12 table, three of them arrived in a first half in which Connacht dominated territory and possession.

“The defence again,” said Lam after agreeing that the margin of the loss was down to poor execution, “I mean, I put the clips up at half-time and it was exactly the same last week. We have numbers, but we’re not connecting. One guy bites in, one guy’s pushing…

“So I’m asking: ‘did you talk?’ ‘No.‘ ‘Did you talk?’ ‘No.

‘Well there you go, that’s what you get’.

“You make their attack look good, particularly on the edges where we just had to stay alive, get to the outside and push off and make the defence.

“It’s basics. We made them (errors) last week, trained and went through it, but (it happens) again. When it counts is on the field.”

Lam did take some heart that he was able to rotate his squad a great deal over the competition’s final two rounds with a view of readying all personnel for matches that could put a glorious sheen on a poor season as defending champions. The Samoan began the process of revving his squad back up by putting team selection as a vital component of their away encounter against either Northampton or Gloucester (if they can win the Challenge Cup) on 20 May.

“Everyone’s had a fair chance, some guys are coming back from long-term injuries. Obviously Bundee (Aki), Tom (McCartney), Niyisy (Adeolokun) and Matt Healy are guys who aren’t there. But that’s why we needed to make sure some guys got games.

Eoin McKeon dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We took that risk and we were happy to, because the outcome was nowhere near as important as the process of building. You do learn a lot from these type of games.

“It’s all on the line. We’re excited to go over there now with a big carrot of getting one more game back at the Sportsground.”

That would be some occasion.

“I said it to the boys, we could have won or lost those two games, but it wouldn’t have made any difference to what happens in that play-off game.

“But, there’s too many things that weren’t right today and too many things weren’t right last week.”

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