Connacht have ‘opened people’s eyes’ after making a positive impression in their Heineken Cup bow on Friday night against Harlequins, according to head coach Eric Elwood.
While Connacht might have left the Stoop empty-handed as two late Nick Evans penalties ensured Quins triumphed 25-17, the RaboDirect PRO12 outfit gave a sterling account of themselves in their Heineken Cup debut.
They outscored the Premiership leaders two tries to one through scores by Tiernan O'Halloran and Gavin Duffy and only trailed by two points before a pair of Evans penalties in the last five minutes denied the visitors the consolation of a bonus point.
And while Elwood admitted that was a ‘bitter pill to swallow’ he could not hide his pride in his side’s performance on the big stage.
He said: “That’s the most frustrating and disappointing thing that for all the effort and hard work, we have come away with nothing.
“We knew it was going to be a huge challenge.
“The commitment and the promise we tried to make was we are looking at this as a six-test series.
“This was our first test and we have five more tests still to come. This one was very important to us as it was our first game in the Heineken and next week has that bit more importance because it is at home against a team called Toulouse.
“That contact area is really crucial and if you can’t marshal that area and dictate what speed it is coming out then you will be under a bit of pressure.
“The lads were not fazed by it. We were very positive about it and wanted everyone to embrace it and face the challenge head on. I think we that to an extent, but there’s a bit of tinkering to be done.
“For the first time I think we did open people’s eyes but the challenge now is can we back that up at home.”