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Lam proud of Connacht despite loss, laments worst conditions 'in my experience'

The province lost 16-13 against Edinburgh on Friday, bringing their unbeaten home record to an end.

Pat Lam pictured during Connacht's game with Edinburgh on Friday.
Pat Lam pictured during Connacht's game with Edinburgh on Friday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT COACH PAT Lam said he was “proud” of his side, despite their narrow loss to Edinburgh on Friday, and lamented the poor conditions at the Sportsground.

The hosts had secured a 13-7 half-time lead, but the Scots’ pressure eventually told, as the Irish side were beaten 16-13.

“At 13-7, that’s not enough but I challenged the fellas that this was going to be a monumental effort, the biggest challenge of the season if we can get out there in those conditions — which were the worst in my experience — to hold out on a six-point lead,” Lam said.

“[Edinburgh] are a good side, particularly in these conditions. But I’m proud of the boys, we were there hanging in, hanging in, but six points wasn’t enough. At the end of the day we’ve got a bonus point and it is what it is.”

Lam also admitted that the game had taken a physical toll on a number of players.

“The penalty count is an interesting one. It was a tough night for the hookers, for the line-outs and we’ve taken a few knocks with injuries as well. We were struggling at the end there, I think we were close to being down to 13 men with Bundee [Aki] gone too.”

While the Irish side failed to register any points in the second half, the New Zealand-born coach feels they could have capitalised more on their wind advantage before the break.

“It was a bit late by the time we got that [penalty try], I think it was only four minutes to go until half-time. I think in that first 20 minutes, we just didn’t get enough points in there, and again when you play into the wind you’re going to keep the ball a lot more. We knew they were going to do that, so our defence and collisions needed to be better than it was tonight.”

Eoin McKeon added that the team were “bitterly disappointed” at failing to build on the momentum from their recent win over Munster.

“Externally outside of the training camp, a lot of people would have expected us to win this one and we tried to focus on Edinburgh as if it was any other game. We’re bitterly disappointed now. Conditions didn’t help, we probably didn’t do enough damage in the first half and then trying to battle our way back with that wind in our face, it’s just a bit of a nightmare. We’ll review the game and push on forward for the European game next week.”

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The 23-year-old forward suggested that the side had underperformed, while the loss also means that their unbeaten home record in the Pro12 is gone.

“We’re still licking our wounds a bit. It was one of our goals at the start of the season, that we weren’t going to lose at home. We’re pretty gutted at the moment now. We need to bounce back next week against Exeter.

“When the wind is swirling around like that, it’s tough even if there was no opposition against you. We probably didn’t do as well as we would have liked last week and going forward we’re going to look at what went wrong and what we can fix going on to next week.”

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