Connacht head coach Andy Friend declared himself proud of his team’s performance against Toulouse despite coming out on the wrong side of a 32-17 scoreline at Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday.
The Westerners, back in the Champions Cup after a three year absence, were well in the game until the final quarter before the four-time champions pulled away, with Pita Ahki’s injury time try securing a winning bonus point for the hosts.
"I was really proud of our performance," Friend said afterwards.
"I just thought the boys never stopped trying. When they got their opportunities they took them in the first-half.
"I thought a lot of things were stacked against us, but they stuck at our systems and believed in themselves.
"We went into the break one point down and came out in the second-half and kept the pressure on.
"If you look at the 32-17 scoreline it looks like a one-sided game but it certainly wasn't. We can take a lot of pride out of this game.
"Our back to back games against Gloucester will be pool defining. You've got to win your home games while you've definitely got to get one win away from home if not two. It's going to be a crucial double header."
Toulouse captain Jerome Kaino was also full of praise for the Irish province.
"Connacht put a lot of pressure on us," the former All Black commented.
"In the first-half we didn't play the way we wanted to play and we were under pressure. But I'm proud of the way the boys played in the second-half.
"We improved our game significantly after half-time and our skill levels were much better. To win at home and get the bonus points was important.
"It is great to have started the competition with two wins especially in our pool it's important to win at home."
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