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Andrew Browne takes the plaudits after a hard-fought win.
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John Muldoon praises '9,000 crazy western people' for helping Connacht over the line
The skipper says the crowd make players give an extra 5% on nights like this.

CONNACHT CAPTAIN JOHN Muldoon hailed the influence of ’9,000 crazy western people’ during tonight’s drama-filled Champions Cup pool 2 win over Toulouse in Galway.

Just as the Pro12 champions left it late to seal victory over the French giants, their fans left it until this afternoon to make the Sportsground an 8,091 sell-out.

Muldoon may have over-estimated the capacity crowd somewhat, but that mistake underlines his point about the impact the raucous support have on the playing personnel.

Twice Connacht were forced to battle back from deficits of more than a maximum score, but in both halves they did it with aplomb. When it’s put to Muldoon that confidence was the key to believing they would come back, and then staying in the lead when energy was needed to repel late French attacks, he immediately turned the spotlight to the fans.

“I would say that’s the extra 5% you get from being at home and having a big crowd behind you,” said Muldoon while some of his team-mates took the congratulations of family and fans behind the stand.

There’s belief in ourselves, there’s belief in our ability, but when you’ve 9,000 crazy western people shouting at you, it’ll give you that couple of percent that you need.

“Thankfully it was a sold-out crowd, and I don’t think there’ll be too many teams looking forward to travelling to the Sportsground. The harder we can make it on them the better.”

Connacht’s head coach Pat Lam at the press conference after the match Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Head coach Pat Lam also noted the affect of supporters in getting players back onto their feet and focusing attention to the job at hand no matter what the scoreline, but also moved to dedicate the win to the rugby community of the western province.

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“It isn’t just a proud day for us as a team,” the Samoan said in a packed media room post-match, “but for our supporters as well.

We’re all about inspiring our community. That’s the purpose of Connacht Rugby.”

“We said after we won the trophy last season that was just an outcome of our journey, the journey continues. And this is no different.”

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