Pat Lam’s hopes to deliver Champions Cup rugby as a parting gift to Connacht were dashed on Saturday, as his side were defeated 21-15 by Northampton Saints.
The 2016 Pro12 champions endured a difficult campaign this time around, but the slim possibility of qualifying for the Champions Cup via the playoffs was some consolation at least.
However, despite their best efforts, their Premiership opponents proved too strong for them. The tone was set for the match almost immediately as a first-minute converted try from Harry Mallinder put the home side seven points to the good. Niyi Adeolokun responded several minutes later to level the score, but Mallinder’s fine kicking form from penalties meant that, in the end, the Saints were always able to do just enough to get the victory.
Nonetheless, Lam can be proud of his side, even if they fell a bit short of getting that surprise win. He now departs for Championship side Bristol, with Kieran Keane replacing the New Zealand native this summer.
Saints, meanwhile, will face off against Cardiff Blues’ conquerers, and recent Challenge Cup winners, Stade Francais, for a place in the Champions Cup.
The general consensus after the game, according to immediate social media reaction anyway, was that while Northampton did enough to win, Connacht might feel that they could have believed in themselves more.
All over – Northampton have won at Franklin’s Gardens with a scoreline of 21 – 15 #CRLive We fought to the very end!
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) May 20, 2017
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) May 20, 2017
Hard luck Connacht ?
— Michelle (@CorkSeashell) May 20, 2017
— Matt Cassidy (@Cass_maitias) May 20, 2017
Tough pill to swallow. Saints, despite all their individual quality, are a poor team and Connacht had ample opportunity to win that.
— John O’Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) May 20, 2017
FULL-TIME! Saints 21-15 Connacht. Absolute nerve-jangler, but 14-man Saints cling on. Lawes turned it over. Saints host Stade on Friday.
— Tom Vickers (@WheresTommyV) May 20, 2017
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