Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan Mike McCarthy gets to grips with Erik Lund.
# Heineken Cup
Biarritz win was better than Quins but we want more - McCarthy
The Connacht lock believes a return victory next week in France is a distinct possibility.

CONNACHT LOCK MIKE MCCARTHY declares his team has ‘full belief’ they can beat Biarritz away next Friday.

The westerners will travel to the south of France later in the week in the hopes of doing the double over the five-time French league champions at Parc des Sports Aguilera.

McCarthy, who excelled for Ireland in the November Series, joked after the 22-14 home victory that he should not have been awarded the man-of-the-match as he ‘kept dropping the ball’ but he was a worthy winner.

“Everyone involved stepped up for 80 minutes,” he told ”That’s what we’ve spoken about – we can’t just play for one half. Lads put their bodies on the line for the whole game.”

Asked if the win, which keep’s Connacht’s Heineken Cup quarter-final dreams alive, was better than the 9-8 win over Harlequins in January, McCarthy agreed that it ‘probably was’. He added:

It was a great night; great weather. A few teams, when they come here and get beat, put it down to the weather but there were dry conditions. It was fantastic.”

The 31-year-old has been thoroughly impressed by the contributions of young Connacht players such as Kieran Marmion, Eoin McKeon and Robbie Henshaw.

“Last week as well,” he added, “we were missing a lot of guys but the young lads stepped up and should have beaten Edinburgh.

“They called all their internationals back, we were missing a lot but we should have won. We came out firing today.”

That winning feeling

Halfway through Pool 3 and Connacht lie second behind Harlequins and would be top if Danny Care had been paid closer attention when the sides met in October.

The most impressive aspect of the eight-point win was the ease at which they dominated the visitors at scrums and the attacking surges that came from all angles.

Exclusive Six
Nations Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring

Become a Member

The breakdown was an even scrap but Dan Parks’ out-half kicking contributions punished the Frenchmen for committing too many bodies to secure the ball. McCarthy said:

Biarritz have a massive pack, like most French teams. Our back-row, the locks, Jason [Harris-Wright], [Brett] Wilkinson or Ronan [Loughney], any one of them could have probably won the man-of-the-match.

The second-row revealed that the half-time team talk centred around trusting their defence and maintaining width in their play. “If we kept the ref on our side, they weren’t going to break us,” he added.

The knock-out stages are windscreen, rather than rear, viewing but McCarthy is under no illusions about the fight Biarritz, Amlin Cup winners last season, will put up.

“It will be massive next week,” he said. “We really want to back it up, not just talk about this game, but it is going to be double the task.

“We’ll go over there with full belief that we can get the victory after beating Zebre away and coming close to Harlequins and Gloucester last season.”

McLaughlin determined to stand up to Clermont ‘bullies’

As it happened: Connacht v Biarritz, Heineken Cup