This Friday night represents a last chance for Connacht, in their maiden Heineken Cup year, to earn a first ever win in the competition as they take on Harlequins at the Sportsground, KO 8pm.
Last week against Toulouse saw the Irish province produce a performance of the highest standard and they will need to conjure up something similar to dispose of Conor O’Shea’s men.
However their 14 game losing streak and recent howlers against Aironi point to a team unable to convert scores when they are presented on a plate – Even against Toulouse Dave McSharry choose the wrong option of going inside when he should stayed wide where a try was the likely outcome – and throughout the season, this, and an element of bad fortune, have been the bane of Connacht rugby and, their loyal fans.
On the team news only one change from last week’s defeat sees Ronan Loughney replace Dylan Rodgers at tighthead. Rogers and the entire Connacht pack had a bad day at the office against the power and technically superior Toulouse scrum.
Along with Loughney four other Conncaht players have been named in the Wolfhounds squad; John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy, Brett Wilkinson and Mike McCarthy, while Tiernan O’Halloran has been called into the Ireland training squad as an extra player.
The 19-year-old winger has had an impressive season scoring two tries in the RaboPro12 and two in the Heineken Cup thus far.
It sounds like a cliche but Connacht have nothing to lose and everything to gain from going all out to win their last game, for a while it would seem, in the Heineken Cup.
15. Gavin Duffy, 14. Fetu Vainikolo, 13. Kyle Tonetti, 12. Dave McSharry,11. Tiernan O’Halloran, 10. Niall O’Connor, 9. Paul O’Donohoe
1. Brett Wilkinson, 2. Adrian Flavin, 3. Ronan Loughney, 4. Michael Swift, 5. Mike McCarthy, 6. John Muldoon, 7. Ray Ofisa, 8. George Naoupu.
16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dylan Rogers,19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Henry Fafafili.