Victory over Wasps the result of hard work not poor refereeing - Lam

Jack Carty of Connacht kicks the match-winning conversion against Wasps during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 4 match between Connacht and Wasps at the Sportsground, Galway.  Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Jack Carty of Connacht kicks the match-winning conversion against Wasps during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 4 match between Connacht and Wasps at the Sportsground, Galway. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Connacht overcame Wasps in Saturday's Champions Cup fixture not by a controversial referee's decision, but by taking the chance and working hard, says coach Pat Lam.

"That decision did not win us the game," Lam said. "We had a maul earlier in the game and we thought we had got over the line, but we didn't. It's never guaranteed.

"The main thing is, it has nothing to do with us. John [Muldoon] asked the question. He asked can we kick to the corner, the referee said yes, so we kicked to the corner and scored the try. If he'd said no, we'd have a quick tap and go for the try - nothing at all to do with us, we played the call."

Lam had sympathy for assistant referee Mathieu Raynal, who replaced referee Jerome Garces late in the game due to an injury.

"To be fair to the ref, there is so much in transition from one World Cup to the next when rules are being looked at. Some teams are playing some rules, but everyone is discussing it, there's all sorts of transition, so I can easily understand it," he said.

Among the changes to be trialled from January 1, 2017 in the southern hemisphere, is the possibility of allowing teams to kick a penalty to touch when the clock has entered overtime.

However Lam says the controversy did not detract from Connacht's win, which now puts them level on 13 points with Wasps and Toulouse with two rounds remaining.

"We play what is in front of us. If it had been Wasps, and they kicked to the corner, we'd have to defend it; if they had tapped, we'd still have to defend it. There was no guarantee from that line-out, but it gave us a chance, and ultimately the work of Sean O'Brien, Rory Parata, and Niyi Adeolokun in getting the turnover gave us the chance to have a go, whatever the chance it was going to be. We still had to work hard to do it, and that was the best part about it."

Lam says Connacht now need to step it up again to add more history with a victory in Ravenhill on Friday.

"We've gone close, and we've also had games where we've been nowhere near it. We beat Ulster here for the first time in a while, and there is real massive history available to us this weekend," he commented.

Connacht are expected to be without Conor Carey following a foot injury in the Wasps win. He is awaiting scan results, as is Dominic Robertson McCoy following a shoulder injury in training. Jake Heenan's knee and ankle injuries in the Wasps away fixture are not as serious as first thought, and there is an outside chance he could be fit. However, utility back Stacey Ili is sidelined for six weeks with an ankle injury.

Good news for Connacht is that former Auckland Blues hooker Tom McCartney has agreed a contract extension for three years. McCartney (31 ), who will be eligible to play for Ireland in October next year, was brought to the Sportsground by Pat Lam in 2014 and quickly established himself as a key leader in the New Zealander's youthful squad.

Auckland-born McCartney said the recent announcement Lam was leaving the club had come as a shock, but Connacht was in a strong place.

"It has lived up to all my expectations," he said. "It's been really special to be involved for the last three years and I am really enjoying it and the opportunity to carry that on.

"Aside from myself and John Muldoon, the average age is really young, and it is a good squad on which to build. It's exciting to be assured of my future for the next three. At the end of the day, the squad we have, all the young players, everything that has been set up, everything Pat [Lam] has instilled, I think going forward we have a really strong future here."

Lam said McCartney would not only continue to be a big contributor to Connacht Rugby, but also to Irish rugby.

"I knew Tom would thrive on the challenge here in Connacht. He is a valuable leader on and off the pitch. Along with all the other recent re-signings, he will be an important contributor to the future success of the province,” he said.

Connacht face Ulster away on Friday in the Guinness PRO12 round 11; kick-off from 7.35pm.

Advertisement

 

Page generated in 0.0919 seconds.