Connacht coach Michael Bradley says Connacht fans have a huge role to play on Saturday as the province bid to nail down a semi-final spot in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final clash with Bourgoin at the Sportsground (kick-off 1pm), coach Michael Bradley said that Connacht’s chances of defeating the French side would increase if there is a big following roaring them on.
“It is an exciting time for Connacht rugby and this is a huge match so hopefully the people of Galway and Connacht will come out and get behind the team,” he said.
“I know, as management, we have said it many times in the past but it is a huge boost to the team when the crowd gets behind them.”
Bradley paid tribute to the supporters for their efforts so far this season, with Connacht enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run at the Sportsground which goes back to September.
“The supporters seem to know when the team is in most need of a lift and fair play to them, they have provided that boost every time it has been needed.
“Hopefully, they will do that again on Saturday and we can all take a step forward together into the semi-finals,” he added.
Connacht may be bottom of the Magners League pile but recent results and performances suggest a far more optimistic view of their hopes of continental glory.
Last weekend’s victory over play-off chasing Edinburgh came on the back of a last-gasp defeat at Magners League leaders and current Heineken Cup champions Leinster – a game in which Connacht were hugely unlucky not to come away with more than a solitary losing bonus point.
Prior to that, Bradley’s men were convincing 16-3 winners over the Dragons, a week after the Welsh side had hammered high-flying Munster.
Throw in a two-point loss at Heineken Cup quarter-finalists the Ospreys and a 19-19 draw with Glasgow – when Connacht were again denied at the death – and it has been a more than solid start to 2010 for the westerners.
And if recent results are not enough to convince critics to take Connacht’s chances of Amlin Challenge Cup success seriously, then maybe home form and tournament seeding will make people sit up and take notice.
As previously mentioned, Connacht have not lost at the Sportsground since September, while they enter the knock-out stages of Europe’s second tier competition as the number one seeds.
Quarter-finalists on six previous occasions and semi-finalists twice, Connacht finished Pool 2 with an enviable 100% record.
Convincing home and away wins over Worcester Warriors, Montpellier and Olympus Rugby XV Madrid saw them run away with the group despite being many people’s third favourites for qualification.
Another win this weekend would set up a guaranteed home semi-final, and with the Sportsground becoming a fortress that visiting sides are finding increasingly hard to conquer, Connacht will fancy their chances of reaching a first ever European final.
Tickets for Saturday’s match are available online through Ticketmaster or by calling in person to the Connacht Branch headquarters at the Sportsground during office hours. Click here for the Ticketmaster link.
Tickets are available at the following prices: Ground tickets (€;25), Concession (€;20) and Child (€;10). Prices do not include Ticketmaster booking fee.