Connacht Must Take Positives from Controversial Munster Defeat

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In sport, there are different ways to lose.

You can lose in a way that is hurtful and poses deeper questions – a defeat that causes a complete rethink of the way a team goes about their business.

And then there are losses where the vanquished side can take plenty of positives from the result, which could act as a springboard for better things to come.

For Connacht, their 18-20 reverse at the hands of Munster is, on paper, a big blow. It was their third loss in four United Rugby Championship games, and as a consequence their rugby union odds to win the URC are now as long as 66/1.

They may be a huge underdog to lift the trophy, but Andy Friend and his players know that they have the talent to climb the league table by putting together a run of victories – they appeared set to start that streak against Munster last time out.

Most onlookers agreed that Connacht were deserved victors, and the extra four points would have seen them move up to ninth place of the URC table – knocking on the door of the European Champions Cup places.

As said, the manner of a defeat says a lot about a team – this was a game that Connacht dominated against a Munster side fancied to go all the way in the URC. In the end, the contest was spoiled by a hapless piece of officiating.

Out of Line

Munster’s try on the stroke of half-time should have been chalked off for offside – that is scarcely debatable, with Tadhg Beirne clearly ahead of the play in the build-up to Chris Cloete crossing the whitewash. 

If the matter had been passed to the TMO it would have almost certainly been ruled out, and then the result of the game, perhaps, swings in Connacht’s favour.

As you can imagine, Friend was seething about the injustice and has sought clarity from URC officials on the decision. So far, none has been forthcoming. “I would have liked, possibly, some explanation, but in my own mind I thought everyone is normally pretty busy on a Monday or Tuesday,” he said in the aftermath of the controversy. “If I haven’t heard anything by tomorrow afternoon, I might make a few calls.”

The Connacht coach was quick to point out that he didn’t want to instigate a witch-hunt, but he will know that in a competition where the margins between success and otherwise are so small, inconsistencies in officiating can be a devastating blow – particularly as the Galway outfit deserved much more from their outing in Limerick.

It leaves Connacht facing an uphill task in cementing themselves amongst the leaders in the URC table, and that situation is made much tougher courtesy of the injuries suffered by Tom Farrell and Cian Prendergast.

But they can take so many positives from the defeat to Munster, and the spirit and quality showed will surely serve them well in the weeks and months ahead.