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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
James Crombie/INPHO Dejected Connacht players leave the field.
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Andy Friend: 'If we play like that against Ulster, they'll put 60 or 70 on us’
The Connacht coach was reacting to his side’s 42-20 defeat to Glasgow this afternoon.

REGRETS? ANDY FRIEND has a few. He came into this game hoping to reduce the gap between his Connacht side and Glasgow to one point in the URC standings. It now sits at 11.

Time remains on his side. There are nine games remaining to claw the deficit back. They can still reach the play-offs but today’s performance and result – a 42-20 hammering – certainly doesn’t help.

Speaking afterwards, the Connacht coach refused to play the sympathy card and point to his side’s lengthy list of injuries and absentees: “I actually don’t think there are mitigating circumstances,” said Friend. “I keep saying we want to be a team that’s got depth. Credit to Glasgow they were way, way, way better that we were today.

“What was disappointing was the lack of energy, the lack of spark and stupidity of some of the penalties we gave away. We kept giving them access. Areas that have functioned well for us before didn’t function. There are no excuses. That was unacceptable, that performance.”

Today’s display was Connacht’s worst of the season evoking memories of a previous defeat at home to Dragons. Again Friend referenced that. “This performance supersedes the Dragons one,” said Friend.

We were worse today, and I hurt saying that. I wear that, I’m the head coach at the end of the day. To have a reasonably packed house there, Tiernan O’Halloran’s 200th game, Cathal Forde’s first game, Gareth our physio’s last game. It’s pretty disappointing.”

It is not as though Connacht didn’t have their chances. At one stage, in the third quarter, the score was 20-20. But for the third week in a row, Connacht’s final quarter weakness showed. Leicester came from 18 down to win; Stade came from 11 behind to beat them and now Glasgow put 22 on Connacht in the final 25 minutes.

glasgow-players-celebrate-after-the-game Bryan Keane / INPHO Glasgow's players celebrate after their win. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

For Friend, though, Connacht’s problems began earlier.

“I thought at half time we were very fortunate to be only 17-10 down. There were a few very stern words said at half time, I thought the messaging from the coaches was good, we got a spark but we didn’t hold the spark. Then the yellow card, 12 points comes off the back of that and the rest is history.

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“We say we want to be the team that wants to be competing for silverware. Teams who compete for silverware have depth and when players get opportunities, they take it. There are other teams who are missing players at the moment as well, so I don’t want us to be looking at that as an excuse. It can’t be an excuse.

“If we’re going to continue to grow as a province, we can’t be the honourable losers. I’m really proud of how we got to the last 16 of Europe, but we parked that this week. We were in a healthy spot heading into this game and a win was crucial. We knew that but we didn’t get it.  Next week becomes so important now.”

Next week is Ulster. In Belfast. They have six days to turn that performance around.

“We’ve just made it harder for ourselves. If we play like that, they’ll put 60 or 70 on us,” said Friend. The warning shot has been fired.

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