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'It certainly feels like a loss in the changing room' - Connacht's Muldoon

The back row explained his side’s decision to go for a fourth try rather than extend their 24-10 lead in the second half.

Robbie Henshaw and Danie Poolman show their disappointment at the final whistle.
Robbie Henshaw and Danie Poolman show their disappointment at the final whistle.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT CAPTAIN JOHN Muldoon admitted that tonight’s 24-24 draw with the Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground felt like a defeat.

Pat Lam’s side conceded a try to Sam Hobbs in the final minute, allowing Blues’ out-half Rhys Patchell to level the game at the death. That Connacht had held a 24-10 lead after 50 minutes made the final result all the more galling.

Much has been made of Connacht’s youthful squad this season, and there were perhaps signs of inexperience in their failure to close out a game from a dominant position early in the second half.

Muldoon was honest in his assessment of the mood in Connacht’s dressing room post-match in Galway.

It just feels like we’ve thrown away three points, to be honest,” said Muldoon. “I just said in the dressing room there that we worked extremely hard for three points against Leinster two weeks ago here, and what’s the difference of three points against Leinster and three points against Cardiff.

“It feels like we’ve thrown away three points. 14 points up, bonus point opportunity available and we find ourselves defending our line with a minute to go.

“We have aspirations of being top six, and we are a work in progress, but a top six team puts them away at 14 points up, in control after 55 minutes or so. We’re disappointed, it certainly feels like a loss in the changing room.”

Neil Paterson award Cardiff Blues a late try Referee Neil Paterson awards Hobbs' late try for Cardiff.

Having racked up three tries to help them into that 24-10 advantage, Connacht spurned a handful of chances to extend their lead by kicking at goal through the reliable Craig Ronaldson, who was named man of the match.

Instead, Muldoon and his fellow leaders opted to pursue the fourth try.

“Absolutely, it’s my call,” explained Muldoon. “I felt we had the foot on the throat and it’s a case of taking the game really. We get the score, the game’s over. We don’t get the score, they come back and draw the match.

“I felt that we were dominating the scrum, but I felt that going to the corner was a safer option. We had scored five, 10 minutes previously and we didn’t get the line-out right. We had two or three opportunities and we didn’t get it right.

We can only put the blame on ourselves, to be honest.”

Connacht hold on to fourth spot in the Pro12 table for tonight at least, and the fact that they have lost just once in their opening five games of the season is a positive. For now, the feeling is one of utter disappointment though.

“I think we maybe let up a small bit, let them back into the game,” said Muldoon. “We were expecting somebody else to do it for us, expecting a bit of magic from somewhere, as opposed to just grinding it out.

“That’s the most disappointing thing, that we didn’t just grind it out when we had the opportunity to do it.”

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Murray Kinsella

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