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Friend is left frustrated after Connacht fail to tame Tigers


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Andy Friend

Andy Friend

�INPHO/Ryan Hiscott

Andy Friend

Connacht have never managed to score 32 points in a regular game in 28 visits to England, but their hopes of securing only their third ever win there went up in smoke as they gifted an understrength Leicester Tigers side a string of tries in this madcap Challenge Cup clash.

Seven tries to four suggests a rip-roaring contest at Welford Road, but four of Leicester's tries and two of Connacht's came from basic errors which will have infuriated both coaching teams.

Steve Borthwick rested most of Leicester's frontline players, but a powerful pack gave them a foothold to capitalise on Connacht's mistakes to win 48-32 to secure a quarter-final next weekend against Newcastle Falcons.

This defeat, a fourth in-a-row, means just eight wins from 19 in the PRO14 and Europe for Connacht this season and a lot of their woes were evident in this one, not least the undoing of a lot of hard work by silly mistakes.

Welsh referee Adam Jones could have dished out four yellow cards to Leicester in the first half, but settled for one to try-scoring hooker Charlie Clare. Connacht conceded 12 points while they had the extra man, so who knows what would have happened had George Martin and Luke Wallace been punished for high tackles and Puma Tomas Lavanini for a deliberate knock-on.

"That is not the reason we lost the game," said Friend.

"We have got to be better. At key moments in the game we gifted points when we should have been scoring them. It's just unacceptable that they score 14 points against us when they have a man in the bin. On two occasions we got it back to two points and then just gifted it back to them."

They failed to build on an early try from Kieran Marmion after he was set up by Sean O'Brien and were 24-11 adrift at the break after Clare mauled over and then tries were gifted to Guy Porter, Matias Moroni and Zack Henry.

Eoghan Masterson finished a Tom Daly break and a reverse pass by Caolin Blade put Alex Wootton through to cut the gap to 27-25 after 60 minutes before Jack Carty missed a 40 metre penalty to edge Connacht in front.

Clare got his second try before Paul Boyle again cut the gap to two eight minutes from time but once more Connacht gave up cheap tries with Harry Wells sealing it for the Tigers with their sixth try.

The rout was completed by Jasper Wiese with a late try.

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