MATT O’CONNOR AND Pat Lam had a difference of opinions as Leinster snatched a win from the grasp of a determined Connacht side at the RDS.
Connacht led by 10 points at half-time and squandered a great scoring opportunity after the break before succumbing to Leinster’s scrummaging pressure. A penalty try, awarded when Connacht were down to 13 men, ultimately gave the home side a 16 — 13 win.
Speaking post-match, O’Connor claimed his team deserved the victory. “They didn’t play any rugby so it would have been an injustice to lose,” he said. The Australian referred to Connacht’s gameplan as defensive and disruptive and claimed ‘they only made 20 carries’.
When asked about O’Connor’s proclamations, Lam told TheScore.ie, “You saw the game, what did you think?” ‘Pretty well’ was the response. “Great,” answered Lam, “because that’s what I thought.”
We were the only team that scored a try, that had that extra dimension and other opportunities to score. You can only do that if you’re playing rugby. As everyone knows, rugby is about playing with attack and defence.”
Lam lauded the commitment his players showed in defence and felt his side deserved to head back west with a win. The New Zealander also criticised referee David Wilkinson for not sending a Leinster player to the sin bin when Connacht kicked for a 5m lineout and set up a rolling maul on 46 minutes. “There was only way an 11, 12-man maul was going down and that was if someone dragged it down,” said Lam.
Dan Parks opted to go for the posts and hit one, handing Leinster back a momentum they only stuttered with when anxious hands dropped greasy balls. O’Connor enquired when it would stop raining but must be concerned with the handling errors that blighted his side’s play. One such error, by Eoin Reddan, led to an opportunistic Kieran Marmion score in the first-half.
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The scrum pressure told as Connacht lost men to the sin bin in the final stages. Tiernan O’Halloran was one of two Connacht backs to pack down for a series of re-set scrums before the penalty try was finally awarded.
“We weren’t leaving there without a try,” declared Leinster flanker Shane Jennings. The home side left with the win, too, but there was little satisfaction in breaking Connacht’s hearts on a squalid night in Dublin.
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