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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)

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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mitch 1 hours ago
The Wallabies team Joe Schmidt must pick to win back Bledisloe Cup

Rodda will be a walk up starter at lock. Frost if you analyse his dominance has little impact and he’s a long way from being physical enough, especially when you compare to Rodda and the work he does. He was quite poor at the World Cup in his lack of physicality. Between Rodda and Skelton we would have locks who can dominate the breakdown and in contact. Frost is maybe next but Schmidt might go for a more physical lock who does their core work better like Ryan or LSL. Swain is no chance unless there’s a load of injuries. Pollard hasn’t got the scrum ability yet to be considered. Nasser dominated him when they went toe to toe and really showed him up. Picking Skelton effects who can play 6 and 8. Ideally Valetini would play 6 as that’s his best position and Wilson at 8 but that’s not ideal for lineout success. Cale isn’t physical enough yet in contact and defence but is the best backrow lineout jumper followed by Wright, Hanigan and Swinton so unfortunately Valetini probably will start at 8 with Wright or Hanigan at 6. Wilson on the bench, he’s got too much quality not to be in the squad. Paisami is leading the way at 12 but Hamish Stewart is playing extremely well also and his ball carrying has improved significantly. Beale is also another option based on the weekend. Beale is class but he’s also the best communicator of any Australian backline player and that can’t be underestimated, he’ll be in the mix.

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