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Pat Lam 'happy but certainly not satisfied' after first Connacht win

Robbie Henshaw admitted the westerners were ‘a bit rusty’ in their Pro12 opener.

Kiwi coach Pat Lam was disappointed with his team's inability to put Zebre away.
Kiwi coach Pat Lam was disappointed with his team's inability to put Zebre away.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

CONNACHT COACH PAT LAM experienced his first win in four games but any feelings of relief he had gave way to frustration at failing to secure a try-scoring bonus point.

Lam, on the losing end of three pre-season matches, watched his side slug their way to a 5-3 lead after 30 minutes of their RaboDirect Pro12 opener. A super Matt Healy try, and two successful Dan Parks kicks, made it 15-3 at the break.

Connacht’s third try came with just five minutes left on the clock and they left themselves exposed at the back as they chased the bonus point. Luca Redolfini finished off a Zebre counter and made it 25 — 16 at the final whistle.

“[I'm] happy to get the win but certainly not satisfied,” Lam told TheScore.ie. ”We know we made far too many errors out there. Obviously, we went for the bonus point in the last four, five minutes but we should have been…” The former Auckland Blues coach trailed off as he chewed over a fallow 20-minute period after the break. He continued:

In the second half, in particular, we just didn’t control ball. We put pressure on [by half-time] and then took it right off. We’ve got a lot to work on. We did did get hands on the ball, put pressure on, we just released it through errors.

“There was some good stuff but it’s just unfortunate. I’m proud of the boys, of their effort and heart, it’s just our execution, at times, it let us down.”

imageFormer Connacht coach Eric Elwood watches the action unfold in Galway. INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht fullback Robbie Henshaw was named as the sponsor’s man-of-the-match was asked what positives he could take from the victory. He replied: “The main thing was that we got the win. It was a slow start; a bit rusty, as our first game would be. The positive is that we came out at the right end.

“They had good line speed on us, which out our ball skills under pressure. There were a few dropped balls out there but we picked it up at half-time. We re-gathered, went out and fixed it.”

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Henshaw revealed that there was some forceful pointing at the whiteboard in the Connacht dressing room at half-time. His coach stressed that all rustiness must be eradicated ahead of next weekend’s match with Cardiff Blues.

Lam praised the contributions of Healy, captain Michael Swift and noted the positive impact of new signing Jake Heenan. Craig Clarke, newly arrived from Waikato Chiefs, may miss the Cardiff game. He may be forced to wait until the Ulster of Ospreys home matches to make his league debut.

– Additional reporting by Aaron Turner of Connacht Clan.

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