Donal Lenihan has criticised Connacht for failing to improve on their two major issues from last season after a disappointing loss to the Dragons in Galway.
Connacht were unable to back up an outstanding performance against the Bulls last week as they suffered a 35-22 loss to the Dragons after they coughed up 27 points in the second half.
The westerners were similarly unimpressive against Cardiff in the first round of the URC, but after downing the South Africans Connacht were expected to put away the Dragons, and yet they came undone again in round three.
Former Munster and Ireland lock Lenihan was speaking on RTE’s Against The Head and questioned whether complacency played a role in Connacht’s loss against the Dragons.
Donal Lenihan on Connacht’s lack of consistency.
“The annoying thing for Andy Friend is that he was quite open that two of his objectives at the start of the season,” Lenihan started.
“They wanted more consistency in performance and they wanted to improve their record at home. They actually lost more games in Galway last season than they did on the road. So to fall down on those two aspects so early in the season…
“It was a brilliant performance against the Bulls and they were furious if you remember after the game about what they deemed to be a lack of respect from the Bulls.
“I just wonder, subconsciously, if they were guilty of the same thing against the Dragons. Because the Dragons hadn’t won in Galway since 2004, yet Connacht were so far off the pace.
“They just weren’t at the same pitch as they were seven days earlier and that’s really disappointing because it’s almost one step forward and three steps back.”
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) October 11, 2021
Andy Friend’s side are still struggling to fix old issues.
Connacht’s lack of consistency is nothing new and has been an unfortunate feature of the province since Andy Friend took over as head coach in 2018.
The 2016 Pro12 champions are more than capable of producing excellent performances, as seen in last season’s 35-24 win against Leinster in Dublin, but they have regularly underperformed in games they should win.
Friend admitted after the match that he was shocked by Connacht’s performance against Dragons and questioned if they needed to make changes in training during the week to prevent more upsets.
One win from three is certainly not how Connacht would have liked to start the season, especially with the new URC format, which will make it tougher than ever before to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup.
Connacht will need to turn things around quickly ahead of this weekend’s derby clash with an in-form Munster side, who recently put the Scarlets to the sword with a team made up of largely young and inexperienced players.