“CAN THIS CONNACHT team go and do something that would be really unusual and win in the Arms Park?” asked Eric Elwood after Connacht beat Pro12 champs Ospreys last weekend.
“It’s not a place Connacht win very often. Can they break through and get an away win?”
Elwood’s queries were answered last night as Connacht overcame Cardiff Blues in Wales for the first time in 12 years.
The victory, the westerner’s second in a week, has elevated them to 8th in the league and, with Zebre at home next, they could soon overtake the Blues.
Connacht’s first season in the Celtic League, which was split into two, saw them finish second in their section. Ever since the league merged into one group, with team numbers ranging between 10 to 12, they have finished near the bottom.
Last season, despite a lengthy losing streak, Elwood’s men finished 8th. The coach is aiming higher and has six games left in charge to get his side there.
Speaking after the game, Elwood said, “We know we’re very competitive at home but the challenge for us was to back up the good result of last week. And we’ve done that.
“We haven’t won here in 12 years. We put a lot of pressure on the boys this week and they trained really hard. And in fairness they responded well.”
Connacht were indebted to tries from Willie Faloon and Danie Poolman in the opening 12 minutes as they opened a 12-0 lead over Blues. Elwood said:
We had the ball for the first 12 minutes and we got 12 points. Unfortunately we didn’t see it for the next 30 minutes or so. So that was disappointing.
“But in fairness to the boys, they showed great character coming back in the second half. That third try [from Faloon] was a good insurance try for us and we kicked on from there.”
Zebre, who have lost 15 from 15 in their debut Pro12 season, are next on the fixtures board for Connacht, who will be coached by Pat Lam next season.
“We have our own goals set for the next few games,” said Elwood. “We have Zebre coming to Galway next week so the key for us is to keep building on the momentum we have at the moment.”
Additional reporting by Aaron Turner of Connacht Clan.