An uncharacteristically sunny day at the Sportsground saw the season open with a home win against the Dragons and as usual the Connacht Clan were not slow to offer their views either in the Clan Bar or online.
The general view was a positive one, with a hint of the typical caution that goes with being a Connacht fan. Being the only Irish province to pick up four points left many with a smile on their face as they sauntered into town.
The performance of the pack attracted much praise, with scrum dominant, line-out solid and good work at the maul both in attack and defence. Denis Buckley and Jake Heenan both impressed in the sunshine, but perhaps the most encouraging performance for the Clan faithful was that of George Naoupu, who showed glimpses of a return to form when he came on at half-time. Some powerful running, eagerness to offload and vital contributions at the maul reminded some of the big man's barnstorming performances in his first season for the province.
The backline by comparison didn't win quite so many plaudits, though Niyi Adeolokun showed some explosive pace and is viewed by many as a very exciting prospect, setting up the first try and always looking dangerous in attack. Ian Porter had a good first outing, allaying the fears that we could be found wanting at nine as Kieran Marmion spends more time in Joe Schmidt's company. Jack Carty had two perfectly weighted cross-field kicks, the second of which led to Poolman's try, but some remained unconvinced by other aspects of his game and he may need some work to assuage the doubts of those who feel the squad is lacking at pivot.
Goal-kicking and defence were two other areas of concern, with only two place-kicks landed from 6 and defence around the fringes coming in for some criticism. Connacht also seemed to take the foot off the gas after some good early work to clock up an eight point lead and this caused some frustration for those who felt that they were clearly the better side and should not have been up against it all the way to the final whistle.
With some good individual and collective performances and plenty of exciting talent still to return to the backline, presumably starting with Robbie Henshaw in Murrayfield on Friday along with perhaps a full eighty from Marmion, there is much to look forward to and the Clan will be tuning into TG4 with optimism. With Mils already having debuted in a water carrier role and the sight of Bundee Aki on the not-too-distant horizon, the positives will firmly outweigh the negatives as the squad head to Edinburgh.