Connacht go into Friday night’s match against the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade knowing that nothing less than a win will keep them in the hunt for qualification to next season’s Heineken Cup.
Connacht coach Michael Bradley recognises that the odds are stacked against his side making it into Europe’s premier tournament for next season, but still sees opportunities for his side to show what they can do.
“Having played well against Ulster last week, we were disappointed not to have done better considering the opportunities we created,” he said.
“Now we’re faced with a situation where we can still qualify for the Heineken Cup as both Ulster and the Dragons have a hard run-in. If we can get a win at Rodney Parade then we’re still in a position to achieve our objective for the season.
“However, in the past, our matches against the Dragons have gone to the home side.
“While we beat them earlier this season in our first match, the Dragons have put in a lot of good performances this season and they’re quite formidable at home so it’ll be a difficult ask.”
The Dragons’ talented back-line is renowned throughout the league but with the ball being spread wide the Connacht coach feels that his side can capitalise on opportunities that may present themselves.
“Having watched the Dragons over the last couple of matches, they’ve played a more expansive game so they’re developing all the time,” Bradley added.
“From our point of view we have to restrict their opportunities to put width on the ball and in doing so that might create opportunities for ourselves in terms of turnovers and eventually getting into a winning position in the match.”
In Connacht’s two previous matches, bad weather has been a large factor in keeping the score down, however Bradley is hoping for a clear evening so both sides can show what they can do on Friday.
“From our point of view we have to keep varying our game. We’re hoping for a dry day as we’ve played our last couple of matches in difficult conditions, in particular against the provinces.
“It’ll be nice to get a ‘top of the ground’ type of game and I think both sides will be looking to put width on the game and on that basis it should make for an exciting encounter.”