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'We don't want to be a nearly team... I'm as guilty as anyone'

By PA
Dave Heffernan of Connacht after his side's defeat (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Connacht fly-half Jack Carty admits his side will have to improve significantly if they are to make an impact in the Champions Cup round of 16.

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The Irish province slipped to a late 37-31 defeat in Paris against Stade Francais on Sunday in the final round of Champions Cup pool fixtures.

Connacht had already qualified for the knockout stages but missed out on an opportunity to get a more favourable draw, and Ireland playmaker Carty has warned his team must learn to close out tight games out if they are to become a force in Europe.

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“Look, we are bitterly disappointed,” he said. “It was quite similar to how we finished the game last week. We have to look at ourselves.

“We were 11 points up today, and 14 points up last week. We do so well to put ourselves in these positions, but against teams like Stade Francais you can’t switch off.

“Unfortunately, we did, and we were punished for it. I think the pace went to something that suited them.

“Numerically we got a yellow card towards the end which evened things up. It’s something we’ll look at. For the majority of the game, we played quite well, but some forced turnovers and offloads cost us.

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“What we need to look at is the three games we lost we should have probably won. We don’t want to be a nearly team.

“These sort of games where you are ahead by a couple of points you need to close them out. I’m as guilty as anyone.”

Connacht led for most of the match but tries from Adrian Lapegue (two), Ngani Laumape, Kylan Hamdaoui, and Ryan Chapuis, along with 12 points from the boots of Segonds and Nicholas Sanchez, got them over the line.

The visitors claimed two match points with Alex Wootton, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jarrad Butler crossing for tries, while Carty kicked 11 points.

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Andy Friend’s side looked almost certain to emerge victorious when Stade Francais hooker Tolu Latu was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for a no arms clearout, and then swearing at referee Wayne Barnes.

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But the Parisians refused to throw in the towel, and a last-gasp penalty from Segonds earned them victory.

“We really had to dig deep there to earn that win,” said Stade Francais wing Telusa Veainu.

“I think it (red card) made us gel together a bit better. Sometimes when things like that happen it brings us closer together because it makes us work that little bit harder to cover each other especially in defence and even in attack as well.

“We’ve got to look at this performance as a confidence booster for us going into next week. For us it’s about focusing on one game at a time as cliche as it sounds.”

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