It suits us better to be playing away in the first leg, said Bradley. We will know exactly what we will have to do when Narbonne come to the Galway Sportsground the following Saturday.”
Connacht’s French Connection lives on – they travel to France this weekend for the first leg of their Parker Pen Challenge Cup quarter-final against Narbonne having already seen off the challenges of Beziers and Pau en route to the last eight.
The Irish province make their third trip to the Continent on the back of a superb narrow four-point defeat at Pau last Saturday with coach Michael Bradley delighted to initially be away from home.
It suits us better to be playing away in the first leg, said Bradley. We will know exactly what we will have to do when Narbonne come to the Galway Sportsground the following Saturday – and that just might make all the difference.
This will be the third season in a row that we will have played Narbonne in the tournament so we know them pretty well – you could say we are renewing old rivalries – and at the moment it is all square.
In 2001 / 2002 both Pool 4 games went with home advantage, and it was the same in Round 2 last season, Connacht going through to the quarter-finals with just a single point advantage.
The Parker Pen Challenge Cup is a tough and hard tournament – but also a great experience and tremendously exciting. We have guaranteed ourselves two more weeks in Europe and it is great for Connacht to be mentioned in winning ways.
The performances against Beziers and Pau, two big physical sides, were most pleasing and our defence has been outstanding.
You know when you go to France you are unlikely to see much of the ball and the work Mike Ford has done with us in that area has really paid off handsomely. I am happy with our defence.
Meanwhile, Same again! Narbonne coach, Jean-Francois Beltran, has asked his side for more of the same when they take on Connacht in the Parc des Sports et de l’Amitie on Saturday evening.
We have to show the same commitment in the quarter-finals that we put in over the last two weekends. Many of the teams in the Challenge Cup only narrowly missed out on Heineken Cup qualification so it is great to be playing against these teams and if we get to the semi-finals, anything can happen – we would love to go all the way again.
The fact that we are at home first this time doesn’t change a thing. On Saturday, we know we have to win with as big a margin as possible because Connacht is not an easy place to play.
You have to have earned your place in the quarter-final and we know Connacht are a good team. After London Irish, it’s now an honour to be playing Connacht.
The game plan that Marc Delpoux and I are putting into place is going well at the moment. We want the ball carriers to be a lot more present around the park and to stay on our feet. That way, an attack can begin anywhere on the pitch and you eliminate the danger zones.