SPORT can be unfathomable at times. Just how has this group of former winners of the competition become one of the league’s worst sides this season? After Friday’s one sided loss in west Wales, they sit among the bottom four teams out of 14, in combined points total, right now and they have lost three of the games they’ve played against the sides below them.
A dozen of these players who played on Friday were on the field in Murrayfield less than two years ago after that remarkable league trumph, yet those medals and memories are at odds with what is on display at the moment and that must be extremely frustrating. Pride is all they have to play for now and there doesn’t seem to be much sign of a collective plan to harness that feeling.
Individually, it’s easy to detect the inner self belief both in terms of body language and what they say to the media, but that simply isn’t translating into a collective self belief and Connacht’s collective posture is one of shoulders slumped and heads down once things start going wrong.
Up until last Friday, the run of defeats had been mitigated somewhat by the narrow margins in so many of those encounters. They hold a league high six losing bonus points and that certainly accounts for some of the 13 losses during the campaign but after a poor start here, they found themselves 13-0 down by the midway point of the first half, ultimately setting a season low in a losing margin of 29 points.
The Ospreys had started with some supremely accurate goal kicking from Dan Biggar to go 6-0 in front and Connacht had responded with possession and territorial dominance, but marred by a lack of incision (basically a similar narrative to almost every defeat this year). The opening try from the hosts came from an intercept in their own 22 and to make matters worse for Connacht, it was during a sin-bin period with Dan Evans the transgressor.
Sure Connacht hit back from that Jeff Hassler breakaway try with one in response from temporary blood sub Craig Ronaldson, but by half time the gap was 20-10 after Evans made up for his sin-bin to carve a simple line through a porous midfield defence from Connacht.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.