Losing bonus point little consolation for Connacht’s Pat Lam

.''Ulster's Paddy Jackson is tackled by Connacht's Dave McSharry
.''Ulster's Paddy Jackson is tackled by Connacht's Dave McSharry

A first ever PRO12 point in Belfast was little consolation to Connacht coach Pat Lam as he criticised playing the fixture on Boxing Night and the referee John Lacey.

Lam’s side went down 13-10 against a struggling Ulster but the former Northampton backrow felt Craig Gilroy’s try should have been disallowed.

“Ultimately we are disappointed but I’m proud of the effort,” said Lam.

“This fixture is not normal we were meant to play Munster and it got changed so it took us three and half hours to drive to Shannon, get on a plane to Belfast.

“For the boys to put that behind them and come out and put in a pretty good performance in the sense of giving everything in pretty tough conditions against an Ulster team that were extremely hungry and physical and some pretty tough calls too.

“Two weeks in a row we have fought hard against Leinster and Ulster and with five minutes on the clock in both games we have opportunities to be within touching distance to win it.

“We’ll take the point but we certainly wanted more.”

Lam added: “We can hear the calls and we can see it, my feeling since I’ve been here is you always get the toughest calls in the inter-pro games.

“In tough conditions it is always going to come down to which way the calls go and certainly the attacking team had a lot of that tonight.

“I’m not saying Ulster didn’t deserve the penalties they got but we’ll go through it and make sure there was consistency.

“The try they got we had been working on it all week, we knew they were coming back on the inside to push and Jack Carty was bowled over from a runner coming in but nothing was looked it.

“History shows it’s not an easy place to come and get the win but we were close and we are certainly closing the gap on the other three.”

In spite of the wintery conditions Lam was disappointed with Connacht’s high error count.

“It’s up another level and that is part of the experience for the players with the pressure, the intensity and guys losing the ball in contact but it was happening for both sides.

“We had a couple of set pieces that we won clean and guys lost the ball.

“A couple of times we kicked the ball when we should have been running and counter attacking. We have to look at some of our decision making.

“This time last year we were bottom of the table and now we are competing hard. We look at our losses and the last two have been away from the Sportsground and we’re looking forward to getting back there for Munster.

“It’s no disgrace what we have done in the last two weeks and we’re disappointed we didn’t get the wins.”