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Dublin: 15°C Thursday 29 October 2020

'It's gut-wrenching that one': Carty and Connacht left deflated after dramatic loss

The out-half was intent on attacking Leinster from the off, and the tactic almost paid dividends.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Sean Farrell reports from the RDS

THERE WAS NO way to dress it up and put a brave face on. Connacht carry a bitter disappointment with them on the road back to Galway.

Andy Friend’s men were on the brink of bridging a 16-year wait for a win in Dublin. The clock was on their side and they had earned their 17-point cushion on the scoreboard. But Leinster did as Leinster do.

The double champions meshed together a diligent tight forward-led attacking base with a ambitious width and catch-pass skills that are practiced for hours for times just like this sensational Saturday night.

“Yeah, fair play,” said Friend after a 33-29 thriller in the RDS, “they finished it well.

“We had our chances and I thought the last 15 minutes we tightened up a bit, (we) didn’t play the way we had been playing. You do that to a champion side and they’re going to take the opportunities.

“I thought we managed the game, three quarters of it, very well. Just the last bit we didn’t manage the way we needed to.”

“For 65 minutes we carried very well, we defended very well and our set-piece was strong. It’s gut-wrenching that one.”

Their dominance for the majority of the contest was underlined by the sight of Jack Carty arriving in to meet the press. Rarely has a man of the match looked so emotionally drained by the endgame.

Carty typified Connacht’s brilliance to open up their 12-29 lead. His exceptional chip and take will take pride of place in his career highlight reel. But on top of the 14 points he added to the scoreboard, his fingerprints were all over a brilliant attacking display and his pass at full-speed to put Caolin Blade under the posts for a bonus point try was a thing of beauty.

“You can’t paint over the cracks either,” said the Roscommon man, “that last 15 minutes was bitterly disappointing.”

Carty soon found himself lost for words, but the overriding message at the forefront at his thinking had been there throughout the match and all week long. Connacht did not arrive at the RDS in hope of catching Leinster on an off day. They attacked.

We spoke before the game,(saying) that when you come up here you have to actually go out and play.

“Other years we maybe played conservatively and didn’t get a result.

“Up until 65 minutes we played our game and it went quite well. That last 15 minutes, I can’t really put my finger on what it was. Maybe our choice of kicks could have been better, to get the ball off the park. That’s something myself and the half-backs have to look at.”

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Bundee Aki and Sean Cronin at the final whistle Bundee Aki and Sean Cronin meet after the whistle. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It’s commendable of Carty to point the finger at his own department. But he and Blade were primary explanations for why Connacht unwrapped this Leinster defence time and again.

There is always a lesson to take, a moment to point to and ponder whether things might have gone differently with a more clinical approach. But Leinster had the bit between their teeth as they hunted down the try-line three times in the final 12 minutes.

The winning score from Andrew Porter arrived after 42 long phases.

Connacht’s defence stood up manfully until that point. More importantly, they have marked a line in the sand that they are capable of mixing it with the very best.

It’s just a shame they don’t have more than two bonus points to show for their efforts.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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