Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Elwood revels in historic victory

Eric Elwood

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood was left to savour a historic first victory in the Heineken Cup for his native province after they beat Harlequins 9-8.

A pitch invasion at the end showed just what it meant to the Connacht supporters, who have had to endure 14 successive losses for their side since last September.

"Even with the last scrum with nine seconds left I still wasn't convinced until the ref had blown the whistle and the ball was off the park, and people were invading the pitch," said Elwood. "Unfortunately in Connacht we don't make things easy, but I have to acknowledge the commitment of the boys."

Having taken a 9-5 lead into the break, thanks to three penalties from Niall O'Connor, Connacht defended for their lives in the second half and frustrated Quins into submission.

Sam Smith's early try was the high point for Conor O'Shea's men, who could only add a single penalty from Nick Evans after that.

Elwood added: "To defend like we did with the discipline we did, the commitment was excellent. Our tackle count was two or three times (what theirs was), but that's nothing new for us.

"I think everyone got their reward tonight - the players and the crowd, and it was not the prettiest of games - but we have been knocking on the door for the last 13 weeks so I am quite happy to take an ugly win, no problem.

"What it means is that we have the monkey off our backs. The lads now know that against one of the better teams of Europe we can grind out a victory if we need to, but to do that you have to do the simple things right."