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Borders' coach left fuming.

Byline: By Alan Hedley

The Borders crashed to their third defeat in a row after they looked to heading for the quarter-finals of the Celtic Cup.

Leading Connacht 21-15 with 10 minutes left, Tony Gilbert's side conceded a sucker try and two soft penalties to go down 26-21 and leave their coach bitterly disappointed.

It may have been a vast improvement on their league form - more than 100 points conceded in two defeats - but it's not the start to the season Gilbert would have wanted and he was hard pressed to find any real positives in the immediate aftermath of his side's defeat other than the performance of man of the match Gary Armstrong, the former Newcastle Falcon, who came on as a second-minute replacement for the injured Chris Cusiter and played his heart out.

"I wasn't worried when Chris went off because you are able to bring on Scotland's best-ever player," said Gilbert.

"But losing is the pits and the boys are really feeling it. We had the game won and we gave it to them.

"We took our eye off the ball and Connacht walked off the birthday cake. Okay, there were some things that were encouraging but it's still a defeat."

Gilbert is right to be worried - the Borders really should have closed out a match they had won at 21-15.

It looked like Gilbert's men had the game under control going into the final quarter but an awful kick by Turnbull saw Connacht sweep the ball back and Darren Yapp send in big lock Mike McCarthy for the try.

McHugh's conversion hit the post to leave the Borders just in front at 21-20 but McHugh thumped over a long penalty with three minutes of normal time left to edge Connacht in front and then repeated it a minute later to put the Irish 26-21 ahead.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 20, 2003
Words:309
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