Connacht under pressure to improve away form

Connacht’s away form is under ever-increasing scrutiny as the club heads to Wales to face Cardiff Blues this evening (7.30pm ). Coach Eric Elwood has had to make four changes from the side that beat the Ospreys last week. Robbie Henshaw’s involvement with the Irish set up has seen him remain in camp with the national side, so captain Gavin Duffy will start at full back this evening picking up his 151st cap for Connacht. Tiernan O’Halloran’s knee injury has forced him out with Fetu’u Vainikolo replacing him. There will be plenty of extra Mayo interest to see how Brian Murphy does at inside centre, the 27-year-old only signed professionally with Connacht last summer from Galwegians and the former Shrule-Glenncorrib GAA man will be looking to make a big impression. In the pack Andrew Browne will replace Mick Kearney in the second row

Once again coach Eric Elwood is urging his players to back up a home win when they travel to Cardiff Arms Park in a bid to challenge for another yearly improvement in the RaboDirect Pro 12. Connacht’s only away win this season was against Zebre, and their form in Cardiff is poor - their only victory in 2001 when Elwood kicked two penalties in a tough 6-3 battle. Tomorrow Connacht need to show the same resolve and intensity if they are to break that 12 year gap,

Elwood says it is time Connacht took their good home form away.

“We need the same level of intensity and the same discipline as we showed against Ospreys last weekend. If we can back it up and reproduce that form in Wales, I am confident,” he says. Elwood says the challenge has been issued to his players all week and they have responded in training, “knowing the importance of this week”.

And with Irish referee Dudley Phillips in charge, Elwood says discipline remains a major factor in getting that win. “We showed last week what we are capable of. Our defence was excellent, our attack was good, and we need to play with that same intensity, while also keeping our discipline, to have a chance.”

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