Rugby

Even After A Huge Derby Win, Bundee Aki Demands More From Connacht

Even After A Huge Derby Win, Bundee Aki Demands More From Connacht

When we look back on Connacht's 2018/19 season, one hopes their collapse in the final minutes against a seemingly beaten Leinster team three days before Christmas won't define it. Last night at The Sportsground, they went some way to banishing that memory with a hard fought 21-12 win over Ulster.

The comments after the game from the players and coach and the under the cosh performance of the last 15 minutes suggest there was one thing Connacht were worried about this week - don't let this happen again. Don't be that kind of team.

And they weren't. The win - their sixth in the last seven games - puts them into second in Conference A of the Pro 14, and with a double completed over Ulster, in with a real shout of Champions Cup qualification.

The performance was exemplified by Connacht's outstanding backrow (Sean O'Brien, man of the match Colby Fanga'a, and captain Jarrad Butler) and by Bundee Aki. Aki scored a try in the first half, and was exceptional throughout, earning a turnover to end the game for Connacht in the final moments.

It was the mentality of Aki in the minutes after his late turnover that proved the value of his top level experience and what the rest of his Connacht teammates still need to learn. With a nine point lead, Connacht had won no matter what, but they could still score another try to earn a bonus point. Instead, scrum half James Mitchell kicked the ball out to touch to end the game. The centre was not happy with the decision making and let the young player know how he was feeling.

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After the game on eir Sport, Donncha O'Callaghan was equally critical of the Connacht players' decision and backed up Aki's reaction.

I'd hate though if they players in Connacht were waiting to be spoon fed by Andy Friend. Like, they've won a Championship in 2016. That's not that long ago. It was great to see Bundee Aki really annoyed afterwards when they put the ball out of play. There is an opportunity to go play there and get an extra point, everything matters. They are in a really really good position, they play great rugby, they nearly need to back themselves a bit and get the job done. There's times when you need to get that extra point and find it and that's up to the players

The eir Sport panel of Peter Stringer and O'Callaghan also highlighted the influence of Bundee Aki on Connacht's big win.

SEE ALSO: Munster And Leinster Name Strong Sides For Big Derby Clash

Michael McCarthy

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