Heading into Sunday's Champions Cup game against Montpellier, Connacht were already without Tiernan O’Halloran, Tom Farrell, Kieran Marmion, Quinn Roux and Gavin Thornbury. Shortly before kick-off at the Sportsground, there were further blows with Jarrad Butler, Matt Healy and Niyi Adeolokun also ruled out.
Despite those absentees and conceding a try after 70 seconds, Connacht dug deep and defeated the French side 23-20.
"It was a disappointed camp on Monday when we came in after [losing to] Leinster," Man of the Match Caolin Blade told BT Sport after the game.
A lot of character was questioned. It's a total different team out there this week and I'm chuffed for the lads.
In the first half, we tried to play with a bit too much tempo. We tried to move them around and nearly did it too much.
At half-time, we just spoke about not forcing those 50-50s. It's credit to the lads. I think there was three minutes of pick and goes there, it was well worth it.
Everyone classes us as a wind and rain team. I think the style of rugby we play, we love sunshine. If we have any more of these, we'll get displays like that.
Scrum-half Blade scored Connacht's third try of the game 12 minutes into the second half.
"Bundee [Aki] said if I didn't pass to him, he was going to give out to me," said Blade. "I just took it myself and we'll sort it out after."
Connacht travel to Toulouse for their second game next weekend.
"We're afraid of nothing in this competition - we have nothing to lose," added Blade of facing the Top 14's reigning champions.
"Bundee said if I didn't pass he was going to give out to me."
"I just took it myself, we'll sort it out after!" 😂
Caolin Blade was exceptional today...
A try to cap a Man of the Match performance on a great day for @connachtrugby 🙌 pic.twitter.com/7o4TIPUCKX
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 17, 2019
Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile