No Basque-ing in glory for frustrated Conancht as they head to Bayonne

The frustration continues for Connacht after last Thursday week’s one-point loss away to the Dragons. It was yet another tight game which slipped away from the Westerners, who haven’t won in the Magners League since September.

Eric Elwood’s men will look to end the run of nine straight defeats in all competitions this coming Saturday when they travel to Bayonne in the Amlin Challenge Cup with a 7:45 kick off.

The Basque club are sitting ninth in a fiercely competitive Top 14 and come into the game off the back of a 25-22 home win over Castres last weekend with all eyes firmly on keeping in the hunt for qualification and setting up a winner takes all final day showdown with Harlequins. Connacht are out of contention in their pool but their need for a morale-boosting win will be a driving motivation according to Elwood, whose side have lost 11 times this season, seven of which were by a margin of just one score. “We are competitive and doing a lot a good things, we have to keep believing a persevere, we’ll send the strongest team we can in the hope of getting that elusive win. They are working hard for it and deserve to get the win they are looking for, if it is this week great, if it is next week so be it.” The temptation to rest some key front liners ahead of a potentially bruising encounter in the Basque country must be great but Elwood is not going to be swayed from his bid to put an end to their current run of tight defeats. Those carrying knocks will be rested, it seems, but otherwise it will be a full strength side. “The game itself has a little bit of history,” added Elwood, “we beat them over here, they were a little cross with that defeat and indicated they are determined for some payback. We’ll make some changes but we are not going over there with a weak team.

“We are not going to risk anyone who has a knock that could be jeopardised, we won’t be making changes just for the sake of it, if you want to be on the team you have to earn it but the changes are going to be linked to players.”

There is no doubting that, even with nothing at stake, a win in France to end their current run would be a welcome fillip. Thursday’s defeat in Newport was yet another example of their ability to front up consistently in the Magners League like never before, but it also highlighted their difficulty in remaining composed with the game on the line.

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