Connacht eager to maintain good form

Connacht's Cian Prendergast and Stormers' Ernst Van Rhyn in action from the URC game at the Sportsground on Saturday. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Connacht's Cian Prendergast and Stormers' Ernst Van Rhyn in action from the URC game at the Sportsground on Saturday. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

After two back-to-back wins, Connacht head to The DAM Health Stadium this Friday to face Edinburgh (7.35pm ).

With 41 fit players training this week, Connacht’s Pete Wilkins is happy the coaches have a headache of who to pick for the match day 23.

“It's a good spot to be in as often happens with injuries and availability tending to come in cycles," he says.

“It was a good session there was great energy about it and hugely competitive. The beauty of announcing your 23 as you'll be aware, you get that determination from the other guys to stake a claim and prove you wrong in terms of your selection in a really positive way.”

On Saturday Connacht welcomed the DHL Stormers for the first-time and in true Sportsground’s fashion, were welcomed by very cold and windy conditions. Stormers first score came in the 18th minute having kicked down the line from a penalty. The ensuing maul led to several phases before they went wide where Sergeal Patersen was waiting to run in for the try. Damian Willemse missed the conversion.

Connacht got on the scoreboard in the 29th minute having taken a quick penalty and hammered the Stormers' line, which finally saw Paul Boyle get over and Conor Fitzgerald adding the conversion to lead 7-5.

Then 38 minutes in, Stormers' Manie Libbok kicked high in the air with the bounce favouring the kick of the oncoming Petersen who gathered the ball, passed to Roos who got it to Willemse to get over the try line. Libbok missed the conversion leaving the half time score Connacht 7 v 10 DHL Stormers.

Stormers were slowing the game down at every line out and scrum with referee Ben Blain speaking to them about the issue. Stormers started the second half by getting their third try in the 47th minute, when Libbok scored the try and conversion to increase their lead 17-7.

It was the 59th minute before Connacht scored, with Tom Daly finishing off a great team try. Fitzgerald converted to leave the score 14-17.

A high tackle on Fitzgerald in the 67th minute saw Stormers' Ruhan Nel yellow carded and Fitzgerald leave the pitch for a HIA being replaced by Peter Sullivan, who within four minutes of returning to the field scored in the corner to get Connacht’s third try of the day. Daly missed the conversion leaving the score 19-17 with eight minutes left.

Connacht held out for an important 19-17 win. Leva Fifita was the player of the match with the Connacht bouncers (bench ) making a big impact in the second half.

Andy Friend was happy with the result. “I just said the boys in the shed afterwards last week we had to hang on, this week we had to come from behind, so nice to be able to do both in two weeks and show that we can grind out those counters which we've been guilty of not doing previously," Friend said.


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