Bath Rugby and NEC Harlequins will take 14 and nine point advantages respectively into the Parker Pen Challenge Cup semi-final second leg matches against Montferrand and Connacht
Parker Pen Challenge Cup Semi-Finals – Second Leg.
(Kick-offs LOCAL time)
Saturday 24th April.
14.00: Montferrand v Bath Rugby (+14 pts), Donal Courtney (Ireland). Sport +/Sky
Sunday 25th April.
13.00: Connacht v NEC Harlequins (+9 pts), Nigel Whitehouse (Wales). Sky.
Bath Rugby and NEC Harlequins will take 14 and nine point advantages respectively into the Parker Pen Challenge Cup semi-final second leg matches against Montferrand and Connacht with both ties hanging in the balance.
The two English clubs now face the challenge of traveling away and keeping their noses in front in match points – at best – or at least points difference in their bids to reach the showpiece final at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, 22 May.
When you play in France you must play good, solid rugby to win. If we play loosely, then we will lose, John Connolly, the Bath Rugby head coach said.
We’ve done the hard work in this competition and come through seven games. Now we have to look to come through two more because the fans love to see us win trophies.
I know from my time at Stade Francais that we can expect a hot reception in Montferrand. They should have Pierre Mignoni back to play at scrum half and he will make a difference to them because he’s a real strike force.
They competed very strongly at the break down, which surprised us, and they were very physical and put huge pressure on us behind the scrum through Olivier Magne and the centre pairing of Tony Marsh and Franck Comba.
I think they will strengthen their front row and could make four or five changes for the return game.
As for us, I’m hoping to have Mike Tindall, Iain Balshaw, Mike Catt, Danny Grewcock and Simon Danielli back in two weeks time.
For their part, Montferrand believe they can beat Bath Rugby by 15 points and claim a place in the final at the Madejski Stadium on 22nd May.
We played 60 minutes of quality rugby last Saturday and, during that time we were very well organised and managed to carry out the things we had gone there to do, said coach Alain Hyardet.
But the red card hit us hard and we conceded 26 points during the remainder of the game when we were down to 14 men. It is imperative we play with 15 men for the whole match for the return leg and, as long as we do that, we certainly have a chance of making up the 14 points. Against Newcastle we were down 20 – 3 after the first leg and we came through so it’s not out of the question.
We have played one half and we have one half left to make up the points difference. We must show the same motivation that we showed in the first hour when we showed that when we play against teams who want to move the ball, we can do well – but we must keep 15 men on the pitch.
It is great to be able to host the top Zurich Premiership team of the moment at Stade Marcel Michelin and some of their top performers – Grewcock, Tindall and Catt – could be back for that game which will add some extra bite to the match.
We must bring out the best in ourselves in order to overcome Bath but, if we do that, we are capable of achieving our aim which is to get to the final at Reading.