The odds may be stacked against Connacht when they face Cardiff at the new Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday (3pm ), but they will travel with confidence and a greater sense of belief.
Connacht have not won in six previous visits to the Welsh capital, and their away form is poor, but their 18 - 16 win over the Blues earlier this season ensures they know this is a winnable Magners League fixture.
The biggest stumbling block is their erratic form which has seen them post some appalling away results - the last time in Cardiff they fell by 58 - 0, and this certainly cannot happen again if Connacht have any hopes of pulling themselves off the bottom of the table.
However coach Michael Bradley is confident that if Connacht “get the attitude right” and are within touching distance after 25 minutes, then they should get something out of this final league match before facing Munster and Leinster over the Christmas break.
“The major issues for us is that Cardiff came here expecting to win the match. We played well on the day and turned them over. They will be conscious of that and looking for revenge, but we are going there with confidence. Our away form has been poor to date so we need to get something on the board and this is a big opportunity for us,” Bradley said.
Missing from the squad will be recent Irish A player, centre Keith Matthews, lock Andrew Browne, prop Jamie Hagan, and utility back Troy Nathan. As a result Aidan Wynne is likely to come into the centre, with Liam Bibo taking over from Nathan on the wing. Bradley is likely to maintain the same pack that started against Llanelli last time out when Connacht recorded a worthy 16 - 10 victory. On that day Connacht learned that a good start was half the battle when they led by 13 - 3 at half time. The pack was immense, taking control, particularly in the loose and in the scrum, while the backs were also strong defensively.
Bradley will demand more of the same against a side that has won just one of their last four matches in the Magners League - a 20-12 at home to Ospreys on 24 October. However they will have seven of their 10 Wales squad members back for this clash, including Gareth Cooper, Tom Shanklin, Tom James, Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton, Martyn Williams, and Gethin Jenkins.
They have also signed a Super 14 player, former All Blacks centre Casey Laulala, who was expected to arrive ahead of Sunday’s fixture. Connacht’s new signing George Naoupu is due in Galway this weekend and will be unavailable until the European Challenge Cup fixture against Worcester.
Connacht (possible ) v Cardiff: G Duffy, L Bibo, N Ta'auso, A Wynne, F Carr, I Keatley, F Murphy, B Wilkinson, S Cronin, R Morris, M McCarthy, B Upton, J Muldoon, J O'Connor, M McComish.