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Friend's call for 'trust' pays off in the end for Connacht

The head coach took delight in the simplicity of Connacht’s expertly executed winning try.

A FIRST-EVER win over Gloucester looked, for all the world, like it would remain elusive for Connacht.

Johann Ackermann’s side were on the precipice of a 10-out-of-10 return from their back-to-backs after a powerful second half showing left them 13-24 to the good in Sportsground. They just failed to put away that pesky final few minutes.

“We knew time was ticking,” said Andy Friend after an exhilarating finale delivered two converted tries and the most unlikely of 24-27 win.

the-connacht-team-after-the-game-14122019 Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The team never gives up. You know they won’t give up.  Once we got the (Shane Delahunt) try I thought okay, we’ve got a shot here!”

They made it count.

While on one hand, Friend calls the final attack that led to Tom Daly’s brilliant offload to Robin Copeland ‘a pretty special passage of play’ he highlights the beauty in the simplicity of it all.

“We said before the game, ‘fellas just trust, trust. Trust the systems we’ve been working on and trust your own ability. You don’t need to force it.’

The game’s built on basics, doing the basics really well. You go back to the last try: we carried really hard, we recycled football, the speed of breakdown was really good and we got depth off that.

“We played, didn’t try forcing anything. When Tom gives the offload – if you’ve been good enough and powerful enough to dominate the collision you have the option to offload – that’s simple football.

“We’ve probably been caught forcing things when we didn’t need to through the course of the game. Maybe not trusting the system and going off-key and off-kilter. It was nice at the end the boys trusted their system.”

Sadly for Connaacht, ranking system of the Champions Cup is not based on the level of drama provided and while flirting outrageously with a home loss here they fell short of a bonus point and look even more unlikely to escape the pool than before kick-off.

niyi-adeolokun-jack-carty-and-shane-delahunt-14122019 Jack Carty and Shane Delahunt in the dressing room post-match. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Even so, the manner in which they insisted on pulling something from the fire against an opponent they had never beaten before, will give them fuel to power them into the winter-pros and on to a home meeting with Toulouse in Galway in January.

“This year we’re yet to lose two in a row. We lose and we find a reason to bounce back and that’s pleasing.”

Indeed, they were as good as beaten against Gloucester. But once they’re on that bounce they are difficult to stop.

 

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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