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Friend laments fruitless return from Gloucester as pool picture dims

‘Instead of captialising on the half-time lead, we give an interception and given them a reason to believe.’

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Andy Friend lamented a golden missed opportunity to improve their hopes of escaping Heineken Champions Cup Pool 5 as they slumped to a 26-17 defeat in Gloucester.

The western province had to battle to keep the hosts at bay during the first-half, but emerged for the second half with a 7-10 lead to work from.

Unfortunately, they were soon chasing the game as a loose Jack Carty pass was intercepted by Danny Cipriani and finished by Louis Rees-Zammit. And the former England playmaker revelled in turning the screw with some excellent probing kicks to mount pressure on Connacht that eventually brought a yellow card for Kyle Godwin.

Once facing 14 men and with their tails up, Friend’s side suffered a double-tap with two tries conceded in the space of four minutes and the game was beyond reach.

“Really disappointing,” the Australian said post-match at Kingsholm.

“I thought at half-time we’d played some really good rugby. I felt like we were in a good position. I wouldn’t say we were in control, but we certainly were well-positioned.

But we came out in the second half and instead of captialising on that, we give an interception and given them a reason to believe.”

And the Premiership club now have reason to believe in terms of the pool picture too. Facing likely elimination before today, they are now second in the pool behind Toulouse and three points better off than Connacht before next week’s reverse fixture in the Sportsground.

The western province, whose lengthy injury list was somewhat eased ahead of today, will likely be without openside Colby Fainga’a for round four and potentially the Christmas schedule after what Friend reported as a knee injury similar to the one which sidelined him for weeks earlier this season.

 

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About the author:

Sean Farrell  / Reports from Kingsholm

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