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Tadhg Furlong warns Leinster must cope better with Connacht’s x-factor attack at the Aviva Stadium



Tadhg Furlong admits it is “game on” as Leinster strive to stop Connacht’s x-factor attack at the Aviva Stadium on Friday.

The Blues were fairly content as they departed the Sportsground with a five-point lead at half-time in this two-legged round of 16 tie.

Connacht, with no previous experience of the tournament’s knock-out stages, went into their home leg as big underdogs but emerged with massive credit.

Andy Friend’s side struck early through John Porch’s try but could have left themselves with far too much ground to make up after James Lowe and Hugo Keenan scored three tries between them.

Instead, Leva Fifita’s 61st minute try keeps Connacht well in the tie with the the Good Friday showdown to determine which province makes the quarter-finals.

“There’s a lot for both sides to learn, two teams that obviously know each other fairly well now,” said Leinster’s world-class prop Furlong. “It’s game on.”

After a dramatic encounter played out against a deafening background, the final whistle was greeted by silence on Friday night.

Furlong said: “It’s like the back-to-backs in the pool stages around Christmas.

“We got a win in a really tough place to go, now we’re bringing it back to the Aviva knowing there’s a lot for us to improve on but we’re bringing a five-point lead into it.

“It was a real ding-dong battle. There’s definitely a few accuracy and probably discipline bits that allowed them access into the game and credit to them.

“It just feels like the atmosphere closes in on you there. They were giving us plenty of it as well, ‘sit down, sit down’.

“It’s good. They’re passionate fans. That’s what rugby is about, isn’t it?”.

Furlong was impressed by Connacht’s ability to stretch Leinster’s defence.

“Credit to them, the first try was a very good try but defensively we’d be disappointed with it,” he said.

“They’re very sharp, they’ve a lot of runners at the line, they’ve a lot of threat, not even off 10 or 9, also through the middle – there’s little pick-and-gos through the ruck, some very good poachers all over the field.

“You saw that x-factor a few times, especially Mack Hansen.

“I said to him afterwards it was like he was playing under-8s rugby in the second half – which we’re disappointed with, that we couldn’t close him down.

“He was allowed to do that but with him and Porch on the other wing – very dangerous players, given time and space.

“There’s stuff we need to have conversations about. We played Munster last week, played this game – we’re in a unique position where we’ve so many people in Irish camp, Leinster camp and we’re trying to mould it together quickly.

“There’s definitely a little bit of a synergy piece that we can tidy off but it was pretty good.

“You’re playing professional rugby, you always want to be better. We came here and won – I wouldn’t say we’re overly disappointed.”





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