Defence and injury woes as Connacht host Euro champsSeptember 28, 2012 - 7:00am
Former Liverpool player and Newcastle United manager, Kevin Keegan’s soccer philosophy was ‘you score three, we’ll score four’.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that for Connacht Rugby: In each of the past nine seasons in the league the province has conceded more tries, in some seasons considerably more, than they’ve scored.
But a hallmark of the marked improvement in recent years, particularly last season, was the province’s solid defence. The Westerners made it their business to make other teams work for their five-pointers, and that was perhaps epitomised most in their first Heineken Cup win over Harlequins at the Sportsground in January; the defensive effort was truly heroic that night as player after player put their bodies on the line to keep their try-line intact. Much of the credit for the shoring up of Connacht’s defence can be attributed to the recruitment of defence coach, Mike Forshaw.
The Connacht defence, so far in 2012/2013, has looked shaky at times, however. With just four games gone, they’ve conceded 11 tries, including four in each of the two most recent games, defeats at home to Scarlets and away to Glasgow last weekend.
That’s an average 2.75 tries per game so far this season, compared with the season average last year of 1.6 tries per league game.
Obviously it’s early days in a long season, but it is a worrying trend for Connacht who face one of the most attack-minded teams in the league, Leinster, the reigning Heineken Cup champions, tomorrow (Friday) at the Sportsground (8pm).
At least the squad is being honest about the problem, as evidenced by the comments from Eric Elwood at this week’s press briefing.
“If I’m honest, yes,” he said in response to the question of whether he is concerned about the concession of so many tries.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.