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'You can't but be pleased. Bonus point, six tries to nil... really pleasing'

By PA
PA

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Connacht head coach Andy Friend praised his side’s adaptability after their 36-9 Heineken Champions Cup victory over Stade Francais at the Sportsground.

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The hosts scored six tries and stood up to the physical threat posed by Stade, whose kick-heavy game-plan contrasted greatly with the westerners’ ambitious attacking approach.

The Top 14 club, whose three successful penalties originated at the set-piece, had the upper hand in the scrum, but Friend was pleased with how his team coped with that and found alternative ways to stamp their authority on the game.

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Injuries forced Connacht into some late changes following Friday’s team announcement, and Friend had to reshuffle his pack accordingly.

The Australian, however, was delighted with the impact brought by those players and said this was an indication of the quality of the squad’s depth.

“You can’t but be pleased. Bonus point, six tries to nil,” said Friend, who watched Caolin Blade, John Porch, Alex Wootton, Eoghan Masterson, Diarmuid Kilgallen and Cian Prendergast all cross the whitewash.

“I think our captain, Jack Carty, had a huge role to play in that (their adaptability and on pitch management), as did Oisin Dowling, our lineout leader. I thought he was outstanding.

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“We talk as a team about being adaptable and we needed to be this week because we had a lot of things thrown at us, but we were adaptable and we managed to get a good 23 out there still.

“Some of the more familiar names were probably missing, but that’s the beauty of what we’ve got at the moment.

“We’ve got some really good depth. So, to have that 23 turn up today and do that to Stade is really pleasing.”

Meanwhile, Stade Francais flanker Charlie Francoz was hoping they could turn a corner after losing seven of their opening 12 matches in the Top 14.

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A hat-trick of penalties from Argentinian fly-half Nicolas Sanchez was all they could muster, though, as they failed to get to grips with the gusty Galway conditions and a determined Connacht side.

“We were in the game until the 65th minute and at the end we really gave up. It’s really disappointing (from us),” said Francoz.

“There were too many errors on our part. Connacht were playing at home and were able to cope with the weather conditions and even use them well.

“We did well in the scrum but it didn’t change the outcome. There’s a lot of disappointment in the dressing room. We were hoping for a lot from this change of competition, into Europe.

“We have to work hard now and try to make the most out of next week’s match at home to Bristol. We’re not out of the tournament. Just need to stay focused and move on.”

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