It’s frustrating being a Connacht fan these days.
The team can’t be faulted for effort on the pitch with honest, passionate and hard-working performances but the end result has been the same for nine games in a row now; defeat.
A narrow loss here, an unlucky decision there, are all hard to take but hopefully this Saturday away to Gloucester (KO 3.40pm), Connacht can stop the rot and gain instant revenge on the English side’s four point win at the Sportsground last weekend.
Connacht may still be finding their feet in their inaugural Heineken Cup season but Gloucester is still the Irish provinces greatest chance of a first win in the competition as they languish, rock bottom of Pool 6.
Last week’s match was as stellar a performance Connacht fans have seen all season from their side. They really took the game to the English giants and through Mike McCarthy and former skipper, the irrepressible John Muldoon, should have won the tie.
Speaking post-game, Elwood was already looking for revenge because he, like the players and fans, knew this was a game that had a Connacht victory written all over it.
“It is difficult because that was a game we felt we had a huge opportunity to get our first win in the Heineken Cup, so now we cannot feel sorry for ourselves,” he insisted. “We know we are capable of mixing with this opposition. Yes, they will be a different proposition on their home patch, but the challenge now for us is, ‘Can we do to them next week what they did to us today?”’
Gavin Duffy’s try had reduced the lead to a single point and thoughts turned to a famous win at the Sportsground. However, Gloucester’s far superior set-piece and scrum scuttled any notions of that happening.
“We are frustrated with our performance. That was a huge opportunity missed. I thought when we got within one point we would have pushed on, because we had a bit of momentum, and that is what is disappointing,” conceded Elwood. “Both teams were in a difficult place. This could kickstart their season and we have an opportunity next week to see if we can bounce back”.
Michael Swift has once again been ruled out with a knee injury while Galwegian Eoin McKeon may start in the back-row alongside Muldoon. Although Johnny O’ Connor has resumed full training this week it’s unlikely he will start but may still have a place on the bench.
A combination of injury, player-welfare and too many games in quick succession will force Elwood to change his starting XV. This forced chopping and changing doesn’t do the team any favours as a settled side is needed week in, week out if they are to see out important, tight matches with a win.