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Elwood delighted to get first Heineken Cup win out of the way

Guinness PRO12 Editor

21 Jan 2012

It wasn’t the prettiest of victories but after leading Connacht to their first ever win in the Heineken Cup, coach Eric Elwood insisted he couldn’t care less.

Harlequins would have been in confident mood heading to the Sportsground as they looked for the victory that would have given them a quarter-final spot with Toulouse being surprised in Gloucester.

And it looked like Elwood’s men wouldn’t put up much of a fight as the RaboDirect PRO12 strugglers went into the game on a 14-match losing streak, including all five matches in their debut Heineken Cup campaign.

But the side from Galway refused to follow the form book, ripping it up as three Niall O’Connor penalties cancelled out Sam Smith’s converted try for a famous victory.

And while admitting it was far from perfect, Elwood was quick to underline the importance of notching up their first win in European rugby’s premier competition.

"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,” he said.

"Unfortunately in Connacht we don't make things easy, but I have to acknowledge the commitment of the boys.

"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."