Last Friday Connacht stepped up to the plate and gave almost as good as they got against Leinster.

Last night at the Aviva, not so much.

The Westerners have been nothing this season if not consistent in their inconsistency.

They'll fly out to South Africa tomorrow for URC games against Lions and Sharks with a "fairly long shot" of reaching the play-offs, according to Andy Friend.

They played six Heineken Champions Cup games this season and won just one, albeit they secured bonus points in three of the pool games they lost and were within a score of Leinster in the first leg but bowed out thanks to a 56-20 defeat yesterday.

Asked if he could pin-point why they are so hit and miss, the Australian said: "Listen, I think if we're really honest with it, it's the way we conduct ourselves on a weekly basis.

"Sometimes we're really good in our prep and sometimes we're really good in the way we review and we challenge each other and what we do and other times we're not, and we know the on-field performance is usually a fair reflection of what's happening off field.

"So that's for us as a collective and certainly for me as the head coach to drive our standards really harder, and that was the message to the players.

"I actually had seen in the last two weeks a greater endeavour to be professional in the way we go about our preparation, so don't lose that because of that loss, we actually have to keep that more.

"My message to the players after last week's game was I seriously don't believe Leinster are better rugby players, they're better prepared in terms of they're better professionals and that's our next big step up, we need to be better professionals.

"At the end of the day that rests with me, I own that so I'll keeping driving that and make sure we do because there are some very fine footballers in that Connacht jersey and we just need to see more consistency.

"If we get that we'll be more consistent in how we conduct ourselves."

Connacht opened the scoring in the second leg and had captain Jack Carty converted a second early penalty they would have taken the overall lead.

However, Carty pulled his shot wide and Leinster soon hit their straps and put the game out of Connacht’s reach before the break.

"If you get that kick, you go one point up on points [on aggregate]," said the Roscommon man.

"I think if you look back any of the times we put ourselves in trouble we just did so individually and went off script.

"Leinster just pick you off, they're great at taking the next corner and passing on and they make it look simple. But if we win collisions in defence they don't get that.

"I think if we kicked that penalty and went a point ahead, we might have put a question mark in their heads but unfortunately we didn't."

Bundee Aki and Jack Aungier were both sin-binned either side of half-time, while Hugo Keenan escaped a sanction for taking out Connacht full-back Tiernan O’Halloran in the air in the opening minutes.

"Look, I had a good conversation with Luke [Pearce, referee] and I just made sure that if something similar happened the other side of the ball that it would be reffed the exact same," said the Ireland out-half when asked if he believed the Leinster full-back should have gone in the bin.

"It didn't materialise, there wasn't a high ball tackle after that and look, it could have gone either way.

"I don't think there are any excuses on our behalf in terms of the result but I'd probably rather not get into it."

Aki’s high and late challenge on Ireland team-mate Johnny Sexton could have resulted in a red card but the officials deemed it just worthy of a yellow.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said: "I'd have to look back and see exactly where the point of contact and all the rest is but once you're the instigator of the contact, I'm sure you're nervous watching how that plays out.

"Again, it's where the contact is and how the referee gets some level of mitigation into it if he feels that's what's required."

Listen to the RTÉ Rugby podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Follow Munster v Exeter (3pm) Ulster v Toulouse (8pm) via our live blogs on and on the RTÉ News App. Listen to live radio coverage of Ulster v Toulouse on RTÉ Radio 1.