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Dublin: 12°C Monday 17 May 2021

Pat Lam admits Connacht must focus on second half failures

For the second weekend in a row, the western province failed to convert a half time lead into a win.

Connacht suffered a sickening loss to Ulster on Saturday.
Connacht suffered a sickening loss to Ulster on Saturday.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

CONNACHT COACH PAT Lam says his side must learn from their mistakes as they failed to perform in the second half for the second weekend in a row.

Having led Ulster 7-5 at half time in Saturday evening’s Pro 12 clash at the Sportsground, Connacht failed to score in the second period and ended up on the wrong side of an 18-7 scoreline.

There were clear similarities to the loss to the Cardiff Blues the weekend before, when a 10-9 lead at the break was squandered on the way to a 21-10 loss. While it is too early in the season to call it a trend, these collapses after promising starts are something Lam must address.

The western province have impressed in the first half of both games, with pace and aggression the stand out features. However, to come out of the changing rooms looking flat twice is worrying.

Speaking after the loss to Ulster, Lam acknowledged that Connacht need to learn from the failure to build on their first half performances.

“For sure, you learn something from every game. The guys bring a lot of intensity and we’ve got to get accurate and take learnings of how to kick on in that second half. The game is all about pressure and how you apply it.

Connacht coughed up a number of turnovers after passages of good play, and Lam highlighted the fact that his side needs to hang onto possession when they make inroads in the opposition defence.

“[We had] all those moments of releasing pressure. You do some good work and it either comes off or it’s a lost ball, particularly at the breakdown. It was pretty tight and we’ve got to have a really good look at that and what we need to do to improve it.”

One area of the performance that did please Lam was the fight his forwards showed. While he attempted to play the underdog card a little strongly perhaps, it is true that Craig Clarke and Michael Swift showed signs of developing a strong partnership in the second row. 21-year-old Kiwi Jake Heenan also put in another promising performance in the back row.

“Against a bigger pack I thought our set-piece was pretty good, we had enough ball. And that allowed us play some good rugby in that first half and even in the second half we put them under pressure. You’ve got to keep applying to the points and there were errors, particularly at the breakdown.”

Connacht host an in-form Ospreys side next up and it will be fascinating to see if Lam and his squad can reverse their recent second-half collapses.

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Murray Kinsella

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