'If Connacht had won the game, there'd be absolutely no regrets on my part'

Bernard Jackman said Connacht showed Europe what they are capable of.

Murray Kinsella reports from Stade des Alpes

BERNARD JACKMAN PAID tribute to Connacht after his Grenoble side saw off the western province in dramatic fashion in a thrilling Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Pat Lam and  Bernard Jackman Jackman with Pat Lam at Stade des Alpes. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Jackman’s side came through on a 33-32 scoreline in an absorbing contest in front of 14,877 people at Stade des Alpes, with Jonathan Wisniewski’s late drop goal proving decisive.

Connacht delivered the latest in a long string of outstanding attacking displays as they scored four tries, and a humble Jackman said he wouldn’t have argued if Pat Lam’s side had eked out victory.

“Connacht aren’t a team who are well known in France, but tonight the match was live on free-to-air France 4,” said Jackman. “Tonight, they showed France and the rest of Europe what we saw when we analysed them. They’re a team who have made a massive amount of progress, a young side.

I think they’re a team who are growing and a team who believe in what they’re trying to achieve. I’m very happy for us tonight, but I feel that if Connacht had won the game, there’d be absolutely no regrets on my part.

“Connacht did so much, but just at the end probably our experience told and we were able to manage those last couple of minutes a little bit better.

“That’s normal. We have guys like Jonathan Wisniewski, Charl McLeod, who have been around a long time. Also we had the home support, who were incredible. It’s very difficult to come to France and win and Connacht did everything but.

“For us, it’s a huge win because we’re trying to grow the club and create a culture. Even though we made a lot of mistakes and were put under pressure by the good play of Connacht, I felt that it was important for us to win a tight game in cup rugby, which we haven’t played a lot of.

Robbie Henshaw speaks to Bernard Jackman Jackman catches up with Robbie Henshaw. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s mixed emotions, but from our point of view, we’re happy. I just really feel for Connacht.”

The nature of the game, helter skelter with brilliant try met by brilliant try in response, was actually somewhat similar to other Grenoble fixtures this season, said Jackman afterwards as he pointed to his side’s errors.

FCG now move on to an away Challenge Cup semi-final against Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins in two weekends’ time, hopeful that it will be the next step to a first trophy under Jackman.

Even in the increased pressure of a semi-final, their ambitious and daring approach to attack is unlikely to change.

“We want to play, that’s what we want,” said Jackman. “We don’t want to be a, let’s call it a ‘spectacular French team,’ and we don’t want to be like that every week.

“Having said that, we’re not going to change our philosophy in terms of attack. We just need to be a little bit more accurate, but we’ll get there. It’s the second year of a new project.”

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‘I’m extremely proud of the guys’ – Lam lauds Connacht effort in Grenoble

European heartbreak for Connacht as Wisniewski drop goal denies Lam’s men

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