Irish international Kieran Marmion says that Connacht have drawn a line under last Saturday’s defeat to Munster and are keen to return to winning ways in this upcoming weekend’s interprovincial clash against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium. 

 

After a strong performance from the Westerners — which included tries from Jack Carty, who also kicked a conversion and two penalties and Paul Boyle — their southern neighbours eked out a win with a late try in a physical encounter that finished 20-18 in favour of the hosts at Thomond Park. 

 

While it was frustrating to lose, Marmion is confident the squad will take the lessons and positives from it and move their focus to their face-off against Ulster. 

 

“We parked it Monday,’’ the scrum-half said. 

 

“What happened happened. We felt we put in a much better performance than the week before. Obviously, we were a bit disappointed not getting a result, but I think we can take away how we showed up and how we ran them close. We obviously wanted to win, but we can take confidence going into this weekend.”

 

“I think it was a typical InterPro performance. We spoke among ourselves about how we can do that every week. Just the emotions of the occasion, I think it brings the best out of everyone, but we need to deliver every week if we want to be finishing at the top of the table.”

 

Conor Oliver, meanwhile, who excelled in the Munster game paid tribute to the impact made by new forwards coach Dewald Senekal. 

 

The South African coach — who acquired extensive experience both playing and coaching in France — joined Connacht in the summer and Oliver says the pack as a whole are already seeing the benefit. 

 

“Look, it’s brilliant for us”, the openside flanker said of Dewald’s influence. 

 

“We’re really enjoying having him here. It’s very technical with him. All the one-percenters that not a lot people will see, even things like the lift quality in the line out and stuff like that. 

 

“I would say the amount of work he does on his laptop when he’s outside of the Sportsground is nuts. He has all the sessions coded down, of even every game and every lift that someone has done, so the work he’s put in has really filtered down to us as a pack and we’re really buying into that and we’re really enjoying having him here so far.”

 

Elsewhere, head coach Andy Friend is confident that Connacht can secure a win against the in-form Ulster if they stick to their principles. 

 

The Northern province have won all of their opening four games — winning each with a try bonus point — and play a balanced game that incorporates strong running, an efficient maul, and an accurate kicking game. 

 

However, while acknowledging the Ulster strengths, Friend is keen for his team to impose their style of play on the designated visitors for Saturday’s Aviva Stadium clash of provinces. 

 

“First and foremost, they’re the number one team in the competition at the moment: four wins and four bonus-point victories in their four games, maximum points. They’re scoring lots of tries and not conceding too many,” the Australian said. 

 

“They’re a good football side, we know that. They appear to put a big focus on their maul, which will test us. As well as their running game and their kicking game, they like to move the ball up the field through those two methods. 

 

“Listen, we’re gonna have to be on our best performance to knock them off, but we’re comfortable with the game style that we have got and the way that our game is improving. If we can keep that intensity that we showed at Thomond Park last weekend, it will be a very interesting contest.”

 

Jack Carty produced an excellent performance for Connacht in the Munster game — tacking thirteen points onto the scoreboard via a try, two penalties and conversion — and Friend believes his consistency should secure him a berth in the upcoming Irish squad. 

 

There are other players in the Westerners’ playing staff who deserve international recognition, the former Australia sevens coach believes. 

 

Ireland name their squad for their November series tests against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina this evening. 

 

“I thought he was really brilliant, I really did. I think Jack has played some lovely rugby this year and I think he played some great rugby last year too. I would certainly have him there or thereabouts, but it’s not up to me to pick the team, so we’ll wait to see what Andy(Farrell) and his selectors do tomorrow.” 

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