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Pro12: Connacht desperate to slay Dragons and revive their season

With home games coming up against Welsh and Italian opposition, Eoin Griffin is hoping to climb the tab

Dave McSharry and Eoin Griffin celebrate in the Heineken Cup.
Dave McSharry and Eoin Griffin celebrate in the Heineken Cup.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

THE EARLY PROMISE of Connacht’s season is in danger of petering out with just over four months of rugby to play.

Highlights of a hot and cold campaign include the 34-6 win over Leinster, an away win over Zebre in Europe and a 22-14 win over two-time Heineken Cup finalists Biarritz.

And yet, there is a real sense of chances being spurned and defeats being fashioned from winning positions.

Putting an impressive European campaign to one side, Connacht’s profligacy has cost them victories over Edinburgh and Munster.

On Saturday, at the RDS, Eric Elwood’s men were the better side for 30 minutes but could not get a point on the board.

From Leinster’s first visit to the Connacht 22, Ian Madigan sniped over for a try and landed a conversion to make it 7-0. They added 10 more points in the second half to secure the win.

“That first 30 minutes was tough but it was a real game-changer,” Connacht centre Eoin Griffin told TheScore.ie.

“They got momentum, when they secured possession, and got that try. You have to credit Leinster, their defence is very good.”

Griffin added, “We really needed to get some points on the board in the first 30 minutes but just couldn’t capitalise.”

Seven point gamble

Griffin came in from the start at outside centre as Danie Poolman shifted to the right wing in place of the hampered Tiernan O’Halloran.

He paid credit to the ‘excellent Leinster pack’ but was frustrated that Connacht could not slow down the ball as the home side upped the tempo.

The 22-year-old had a fine game in midfield, alongside Dave McSharry, but was off the pitch when Dan Parks made the do-or-die call to kick for an attacking lineout rather than a penalty.

The gamble almost paid off but Brett Wilkinson fumbled with the tryline in sight. Griffin commented:

It was 10-0 at the time and I suppose the thinking on the pitch was that we had to make the most out of the opportunity. We hadn’t gotten down there a whole lot. Three points might have been the easy option.

“Our driving mauls have been good in the last couple of weeks so we thought we could maybe make them pay and get a seven-pointer out of that and shift the momentum back on our side. Unfortunately it went askew.”

Fellow strugglers

Having lost four Pro12 games in succession, the visit of 11th placed Newport Gwent Dragons, on Saturday, could not come at a better time.

Connacht will then welcome Ospreys and Zebre to the Sportsground and Griffin feels a run of strong home performances could revive their season.

“It’s important to get some momentum before big Heineken Cup games,” he said, “but we’re not looking at those games yet.” He added:

In terms of the RaboDirect, we’re looking to get a win. We’ve had some good performances recently that haven’t been rewarded in terms of table points.

“To be honest, a home game coming up [and] we really have to win all our home games.”

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Patrick McCarry

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