/ Rugby

Elwood savours historic victory

Updated: Saturday, 21 Jan 2012 17:41

Connacht coach Eric Elwood was full of praise for his team
Connacht coach Eric Elwood was full of praise for his team

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood was savouring a historic first Heineken Cup victory for his native province on Friday, when they beat Harlequins nine points to eight.

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.

"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."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea was not holding out much hope of reaching the last eight as one of the best group runners-up.

"We are out of it," he said. "We needed to win tonight and I didn't look at the permutations.

"It's just one of those things. You will look back and see opportunities, you will question various things that happened in the second half, but we lost.

"We just have to take it on the chin. We cannot describe just how disappointed we are as a group to let a lot of good work in this Heineken Cup go to waste, but that's life and you get on with it and we have to focus on the LV= Cup next week."

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