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Thoughts on the Ospreys' visit from the fans around the Sportsground and around the province.

Crowds were thin on the terraces of College Road on Saturday but that was probably less to do with Connacht's recent poor run of form and more to do with some unfortunate scheduling, with weightier issues to be settled in the Capital with the small ball.
Those who did turn out were satisfied with the unseasonable weather if not with the scoreboard, and the small but vocal band of Ospreys fans left happier than their local counterparts.

With 43 points shipped, the defence came in for some sharp criticism from those who made the trip or who tuned in to Rob Murphy on the wireless but, perhaps more so than last week, there was a hint of optimism at the potential direction the team is headed.

The absence of a full time defence coach at the province was met with disdain and trepidation in preseason by many fans, and the concession of six tries did nothing to convince anyone of the merits of the omission, with many calls for it to be rectified immediately. Gaping holes were observed in front of Tito Tebaldi, Dan Biggar had time to undo the ribbon his early gift as he cantered through the 22 and there seemed a certain reluctance to introduce young Eli Walker to the Clan Terrace touchline on the half hour.

The doors of the sometimes-exclusive Pavilion Club were thrown open after the game and some brief conversations between fans and players revealed a team furious at not having achieved more in what they felt was a winnable fixture. But among the fans gathered in the marquee, enjoying the unfamiliar caress of a real pint glass, there was some optimism that a gameplan was emerging and that, while work was needed, the utter despair of the previous Saturday's aftermath might not have been completely warranted.

Danie Poolman picked up where he left off last season, looking dangerous from his favoured wing position and playing a central role in both tries, the scrum held up well against much trumpeted, Lion enriched opposition and the line-out, with Craig Clarke on board, looked like having the potential to be an attacking weapon. Jake Heenan continued to perform well, despite one crucial knock-on that led to a try while Aly Muldowney mixed a lovely offload at one end for Poolman's try with a failure to lay an hand on Tebaldi at the other three minutes later.

There is a certain appreciation among many of the Clan for the brand of rugby Pat Lam is trying to play but also a feeling that it needs to be blended with a more direct approach, with the solid lineout used more effectively and a greater willingness to ping the corners when the need arises. Oppositions need to be kept guessing and it is feared the eagerness to move the ball through the hands every time is leading to predictability and, by extension, vulnerability.

So roll on Treviso on Friday night, where our journey into the mind of our new coach continues from the comfort of the Dail Bar on Cross Street in Galway and from an array of bar stools and worried armchairs across the province. The faithful will be hoping for a reduction in the error count, an increase in the defensive effort, and the evolution of the gameplan into something that's hard to predict.

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