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'It's an example of what Connacht people are about' - Lam hails Carty

The Connacht out-half nailed a last-gasp penalty to secure a win against Wasps.

Murray Kinsella reports from the Sportsground 

PAT LAM HAILED Jack Carty after the Connacht out-half nailed a conversion with the last action of the game to secure a vital 20-18 victory for the province over Wasps in the Champions Cup.

A last-gasp try by debutant back row Naulia Dawai at the back of a powerful Connacht maul provided Carty with the shot at goal, although it was a hugely demanding kick from wide on the right.

Connacht players celebrate with winning goal kicker Jack Carty Carty was mobbed by his team-mates after his late kick. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

With the Sportsground drenched in a nerve-wracking silence, Carty slotted the conversion to send the Galway crowd wild.

Most impressively, the game-winning kick came at the end of a week that had seen Connacht’s Carty criticised for his ability off the tee, following two important penalty misses in the away defeat to Wasps last weekend.

“The guy I really want to mention is Jack Carty,” said Lam post-match in Galway. “Whenever I get asked, ‘Who is your favourite sportsman?’, I always admire people who get knocked down, dust themselves off and get going again.

Jack has taken quite a bit of flak, but we watched him closely for how he deals with that. It hurts him, but this week he did extra training sessions, extra goal-kicking; he really knew that the team was going to need him because he’s the only goal kicker left.

“He stepped up and I was just so pleased for him and his family to be able to win a game for Connacht. He’s quite emotional, we’re all emotional about it.

“But that’s an example of what Connacht people are about, they get knocked back and get challenges but they just dust themselves off and get going again.”

Carty’s conversion means Connacht are level with Wasps and Toulouse on 13 match points after four rounds in Pool 2.

Jack Carty celebrates after the game Carty held his nerve for Connacht. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

With a home tie against Zebre and an away fixture against Toulouse still to come, they will feel confident of sealing the deal and qualifying into the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Those contests lie ahead in January, but Connacht have inter-provincial clashes with Ulster and Munster in the Pro12 to concern themselves with in the meantime.

For now, they will simply enjoy this stunning late win over Wasps.

“When you play Champions Cup rugby or Test match rugby, it swings and flows,” said Lam. “You’ve got to be right in there until the end. With four and a half minutes left, I sent a message down to tell the boys to keep believing.

It came back that the boys were talking about belief, which is great. This would be one of the highlights of my time in Connacht, because no one outside knows the week that we’ve had.

“I challenged the boys on Monday, said that this was a great chance to practice mental toughness and preparation without being on the rugby field. The amount of work we’ve put in in the classroom in little groups, just going through things, because that was the reality.

“You saw the warm-up, they had more players even though it was a home game for us. We only had one extra guy, because we have the Eagles game, we only had 24 out there.

Pat Lam celebrates after the game Lam was a proud man. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It’s just been an unbelievable week, so challenging and really putting the guys into the homework. A lot of emails, a lot of study on the video, and we had one training session. That training session confirmed to me that the boys had done the work.

“The other highlight is that Connacht rugby is all about how we deal with adversity.

From my whole time here, that’s what I love about this team – they can draw on experiences and draw on a team culture. One guy goes, the next guy needs to step in and do the role, do the job.

“Take someone like Naulia, coming in and it’s his first game and he fitted nicely into that maul!”

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Murray Kinsella

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