Picturedabove: Montpellier flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo has a firm grip onConnacht's David Slemen as the westerners try to add to their firsthalf tally of three tries at the Sportsground.
Out-half Slemen was making his first appearance of season forConnacht, and converted tries from Adrian Flavin and Daniel Riordan. Hehas been impressing for Galwegians in the AIB League of late.
The concentration is etched all over Conor O'Loughlin's face as he takes on Montpellier winger Aliinu'u Koko in a one-on-one. The match marked the Buccaneers scrum half's first European start since he lined out against Narbonne in September 2004.
Connacht coach Michael Bradley remarkedafter Friday's encounter: "The challenge now will be to go to Francenext week and secure a win and see where that takes us."
Connacht full-back Daniel Riordan hasthe legs on Fulgence Ouedraogo as he races in for his second try in asmany Challenge Cup games. The 22-year-old Annaghdown star has deferredhis college course for a year to concentrate on his rugby and the moveis playing off.
That is three tries in his last five gamesfor the former Under-21 international, whose runs from deep regularlythrill the Sportsground crowd. Previewing Friday's clash, he said:"It's brilliant to be involved in a game like this. It is a combinationof everything. The Friday night, floodlights, you can feel the excitement when you come out in front of a full Sportsground.
"It makes everything so much better and you look forward to thekick-off. There is a great buzz. The people seem to love it and Isuppose we try to put on a bit of a show."
Connacht's South African-born prop Brett Wilkinson tries to hand off Julien Thomas of Montpellier. In his first season as a professional player, Wilkinsonhas taken to it like a duck to water, playing in 11 of Connacht's 13games to date in the Magners League and Challenge Cup.
Connacht flanker Michael Swift keepshold of possession, under pressure from Montpellier's number 7 FulgenceOuedraogo. Michael Bradley's squad rotation policy saw Swift get in forhis first Challenge Cup appearance of the season. The London-born back rower must be itching for a try - his last one came against Grenoble in January of last year.
The sizeable figure of Montpellier prop Nicolas Descamps wraps up Connacht's Paul Warwick in a tackle. Last January the Australian out-half/centre had an eventful time at Stade Sabathe, where the westerners meet Montpellier next Friday in the return game.
Back then in the south of France, Warwick collected 14 points (1 conversion, 3 penalties and 1 drop goal) in the province's 19-13 win, having been sin-binned in the first half.
Connacht out-half David Slemen hasFrancois Trinh Duc and Fulgence Ouedraogo for company as he tries toset the hosts on the attack. It remains to be seen if Slemen did enoughto retain his place in the westerners' side for next Friday's trip toMontpellier - last season he was the out-half for the 'home' gameagainst the French side, with Paul Warwick in place for the away tie.
**All photos by Sportsfile and Inpho Photography**