Despite the bitter disappointment of the defeat against the Scarlets (15-19) last Friday, the Ciel et Blanc captain Antoine Battut is hoping for a reaction in the final pool game in Clermont on Sunday (4.00 pm). (Credit photo : Julien Poupart // Attitude Rugby)
Antoine, now that the dust has settled, what is your analysis of last Friday's defeat against the Scarlets?
There’s still a feeling of frustration, because looking at the video, it’s clear that if we had been a little more clinical we could have had a much better result. All the stats are on our side, and apart from the score, which is not in our favour, there were a lot of good things in that game. We have to admit, the Scarlets took all the chances that came their way. It’s the proof that just because you dominate a game, it doesn’t mean you win. Nevertheless, I am still surprised, because in the European Cup I have never before seen a team so poorly rewarded for trying to play rugby. Usually in the H Cup teams who attempt to use the ball are rewarded more than that. At times, we played a lot of rugby, and despite the defeat, it gives us hope and confidence going forward.
So what is the message from the coaching staff this week, going into the final round of pool games?
That we must work on being more clinical. If the game against the Scarlet taught us one thing, it was that if we want to score tries we have to be more clinical in our finishing. But it is not as if the club is in danger! We know where we are going, we still have our objectives in the Top 14, and these two weeks of European Cup are two weeks of intense work which should enable is to turn the corner in terms of our attacking game. Just as we were able to do with our defence back in October…
On Sunday in Clermont, however, you will be taking on a team which hasn’t lost at home since November 21st 2009…
Sure, but although we are eliminated from the H Cup, we still have our pride, and the respect for our jersey! There is also the desire to keep improving, and to lift the level our game as much as we can from one week to the next. The aim in Clermont is to keep working on the same lines as we have done the past two weeks, paying special attention to our precision on attack. But we know where we are headed and we have to be realistic: it would be presumptuous for us to say we will win in Clermont. It’s always a very tough place to play. But we want to play attacking rugby, and in that respect the game against ASM comes at a perfect time.
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