Iain Balshaw tries to break free of an Eoin McKeon tackle. ©INPHO/James Crombie
Heineken Cup

Connacht are a bloody good team declares Biarritz fullback Balshaw

The westerners are looking to pull off a Heineken Cup double against the French side on Friday.

BIARRITZ FULLBACK IAIN BALSHAW must have been delighted when no French voices emerged from the post-match media huddle.

The former England international has experienced some memorable victories in his four seasons with the French club but Biarritz never came close on Friday.

Connacht bossed affairs from the first minute until the 78th on Friday night.

A last-minute Imanol Harinordoquy try gave Dimitri Yachvili the chance to secure a losing bonus point but his kick sailed wide and Connacht won 22-14.

“We didn’t say too much in the dressing room,” Balshaw told, ”but there will be some strong words on Monday morning.

“We weren’t good enough, we got beaten by the better team. Set-piece, breakdown, ball retention, they were better than us.”

Balshaw added, “I don’t know what the numbers are but we must have given away three times as many turnovers as Connacht and, at this level, you can’t win rugby matches that way.”

The turnover count was 18-12 in Connacht’s favour but one could forgive Balshaw for the shell-shock response.

Happy Monday Mr President

While Mike McCarthy and Dan Parks got most of the post-match plaudits, young Connacht players like Robbie Henshaw, Jason Harris-Wright and Tiernan O’Halloran were pivotal in the Heineken Cup pool win.

“As a collective, they were very good,” said Balshaw. “They threw the ball around very well and kept possession well, with Dan Parks moving them around the field. Their pack was superb; they kept going forward and counter-rucking.

Everyone says ‘Oh you’re going to Connacht. There’s the wind and the rain. Connacht are a bloody good team and they made it tough.

“We’re bitterly disappointed but credit to Connacht, they deserved it. We’ll go home with our tail between our legs but I’m sure we’ll bounce back.”

The two sides meet again at the Parc des Sports Aguilera this Friday but the Biarritz players must first spend a week in the company of some unhappy supporters and benefactors.

“I’m sure our president is not going to be happy,” admitted Balshaw. “We’re disappointed because we focus on the Heineken Cup and we want to make the knock-out stages.”

He added, “I suppose mathematically there is a chance but it is going to be very, very tough. I presume we’ll have to get five points in every match from here on out.”

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