Eric Elwood is calling on Connacht to back up their memorable 34-6 win over Leinster by delivering such results on a more consistent basis.
The westerners were simply outstanding as they took Friday’s game to the visitors, rediscovering their potency behind the scrum and matching that with a display of defensive steel.
Keeping Leinster tryless was an obvious aim after conceding eight tries in their last two games, but the fashioning of five of their own on the night was all the more significant.
David McSharry set the ball rolling with a slick opener in the 14th minute, and wingers Fetu’u Vainikolo and Tiernan O’Halloran got in on the act as Connacht exposed a sluggish Leinster rearguard.
Eric Elwood’s marrying of something old and something new at half-back – namely Dan Parks and Ireland Under-20 scrum half Kieran Marmion – worked a treat as a first half of playing into the wind ended 22-6 in Connacht’s favour.
Former Scotland out-half Parks had a debut to remember, always looking like he had time on the ball and assuredly directing a young back-line that excelled under his guidance.
There was an added confidence and robustness to Connacht’s play and as Leinster endured a scoreless second period, the shackles were thrown off as Elwood’s charges secured the bonus point.
With Leo Auva’a in the sin-bin, his opposite number George Naoupu drove over for the fourth try and Sean Cronin’s overthrown lineout allowed his former Connacht team-mate Ronan Loughney get in for a late fifth.
Typically, Elwood was staying grounded despite the noteworthy nature of the result – flooring the European champions for their first home win of the season and a maiden bonus point.
“We won’t get carried away. It’s a great night, no doubt. But we’re calm inside. The lads deserve it, the way they played and the scores they got,” he said.
“People will say we did a ‘Leinster’ on Leinster. Now we need to do this on a regular basis.
“We’ve been hurting over the last few weeks because our defence has been poor, so to keep a team like Leinster from scoring a try is outstanding. And I thought we scored some nice ones ourselves.”
That will be the key to Connacht’s season, seeing if they can kick on from here. Facing Ulster at Ravenhill next Friday is a huge follow-up game for them, with their second Heineken Cup season also just around the corner.
Big matches ahead and a real desire to build on what Elwood termed, ‘one of the best performance I’ve overseen in my time here’.
“We’re enjoying the moment, but we’re not going to get carried away,” he added.
“The challenge is to replicate a performance like that in Ulster next weekend. That’s going to be an even harder challenge.”
Man-of-the-match Michael Swift, as influential up front as Parks was at out-half, afforded himself a smile of quiet satisfaction as he reflected on a match which marked his record 150th league appearance.
“It was fantastic. It’s important to win these home games early in the season. We’ve had some good patches in games so far but hadn’t really put it all together (before tonight),” said the second row.
“The forwards made the space and the backs exploited it. We were confident with that lead at half-time but Leinster are not Heineken Cup champions for nothing. We knew they’d come back at us and we did well to hold on.”