Toulouse 14-16 Connacht
Pat Lam hails trusting Connacht players
December 8, 2013
Connacht celebrate their win in Toulouse © Getty Images
Pat Lam hailed the "trust" of his Connacht players as the key ingredient of their remarkable 16-14 victory over Toulouse in the Heineken Cup. Toulouse were undefeated at Stade Ernest Wallon in the Heineken Cup for five years, but Lam said his team, bottom of the Rabobank Pro12 ladder after losing their past eight games in the competition, travelled to France undaunted by their rivals and confident of success.
"Every single [Pro12 game] we played we could have won," Lam said. "We missed so many opportunities throughout the season but we still came here confident."
The latest of those Pro12 losses, a humbling 43-10 defeat by Edinburgh at Murrayfield, left experienced back-rower John Muldoon to lament that "players at home and fans will be wondering what happened and it's down to us to fix it ... we've all got to look in the mirror and say that this was down to a poor, poor performance". But Lam said in Toulouse that Connacht "should have won comfortably [in Edinburgh], but they scored three tries in the last five minutes … it might be the best thing that could have happened to us".
"We had a look at our shape and it was badly wrong," Lam said. "We spent a lot of time at the start of the week getting back to our defensive shape."
Lam said the hosts led 7-6 at half-time through an injury-time try from Jean-Pascal Barraque only "because someone left the gate open, it was just a bad call, a system error".
"At half-time, we mainly talked about ourselves, about playing our game," Lam said. "I said: 'They're giving us opportunities. We just need to recognise them.' The homework we did on them paid off - every time we attacked, we had opportunities."
Lam said that his players could not afford to celebrate the greatest victory in the history of Connacht rugby because they had to produce another big display in the reverse fixture this weekend.
"Now we have to go and do the same in our own backyard," he said. "This will be a big effort, because we'll face a hurting Toulouse team. They're going to be written off and told how bad they are. They'll come to us fired up."
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