Exeter Chiefs 33 Connacht 13
Connacht coach Pat Lam says his side’s 33-13 Challenge Cup loss at Sandy Park Stadium on Saturday was a "blip not a catastrophe".
“At the end of the day we are still alive in Europe. Yeah, they have a point over us, but they have to come to Galway,” Lam says as the Chiefs grabbed pole position in Pool Two.
“Ultimately when we do things as a team, we are a good side, and that is the only way we can play, particularly when you come to a place like Exeter where many teams have struggled. We needed to play as a team and we didn’t quite execute. The sooner we move on from that and take the learnings the better, because we have an important game next week.”
Connacht trailed 19-6 at the break with their hosts bossing possession and territory.
Outside the opening five minutes, when Connacht took the lead through a Craig Ronaldson penalty, the home side dominated and looked the more assured.
“Yes, there were system errors early on,” Lam agreed. “We let in a couple of tries just before the break, and it was always going to be an uphill battle from here.”
With nine changes in personnel — including a late withdrawal of Dave McSharry which necessitated a move for Danie Poolman to the centre to accommodate Fionn Carr — it was more a performance than result which was unexpected. Lam explained: “Some of the guys are disappointed because they did not play as well as they could. We don’t have the same depth as others teams, and we knew this was potentially a big problem for us because of the six day turnaround, but with Matt Healy, Quinn Roux, John Muldoon and Eoin McKeon at home, they’ve got a good rest and we will be buzzing next week.”
CONNACHT: D Leader, N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, D Poolman, C Ronaldson, I Porter, F Carr, D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, N White (cpt), M Swift, M Kearney, A Browne, W Faloon, G Naoupu.
Replacements: J Carty for Henshaw (HT), A Muldowney for Swift (45m), R Ah You for White and R Loughney for Buckley (50m), D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (53m), C Blade for Porter (59m), D Qualter for Naoupu (60m), C Finn for Leader (64m).
EXETER CHIEFS: C Botha, J Nowell, H Slade, S Hill, M Jess, G Steenson, W Chudley, B Moon, J Yeandle (capt), M Low, D Armand, D Welch, D Ewers, B White, T Waldrom.
Replacements: T Francis for Low (51m), D Lewis for Chudley (53m), B Sturgess for Moon (58m), I Whitten for Steenson (60m), K Horsman for White (64m), E Taoine for Yeandle (66m), S Naquelevuki for Ewers (68m), F Vainikolo for Nowell (68m),
Referee: P Gauzere.
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