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Connacht Look To Bounce Back Against Bayonne

Connacht Look To Bounce Back Against Bayonne

“We’re looking ahead to next weekend rather than dwelling on last Saturday’s defeat,” admitted Connacht coach Eric Elwood as the westerners’ focus turns to their second Amlin Challenge Cup pool game against French side Bayonne.

“Saturday is behind us now and we’ll press on in a positive way and hopefully we’ll see the rewards on Friday,” said Eric Elwood, whose side suffered a disappointing 23-21 defeat to tournament newcomers I Cavalieri Estra.

Connacht welcome Bayonne to the Sportsground on Friday night as Elwood’s men look to get their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign back on track.

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Hooker Adrian Flavin is expected to be fit for selection, after picking up a knock during the Pool 1 opener in Prato.

“Adrian had a scan on his arm and thankfully it’s not broken, just a badly bruised forearm,” explained Elwood.

“Although he’ll sit out training tomorrow (Tuesday), he’s hoping to recover in time for Friday’s match.”

Though the task of qualifying for quarter-finals has been made more difficult by the loss in Italy, it is a task that is not beyond Connacht.

Elwood ‘firmly believes’ that his side are still in with a chance of making it through to the knockout stages.

Out-half Ian Keatley, who scored 16 points in Prato, reflected on a game that he and his Connacht team-mates want to quickly banish from their memories.

“We were always ahead in the game until they got that intercept try. We were confident that we could come back but unfortunately I missed that drop goal that probably would have settled it.

“I know myself that I’ve got good players around me that could just turn it on at any minute, but unfortunately we didn’t.

“They were definitely up for it. Once we let them back into the game you could hear the crowd getting behind them.”

He added: “During the week we were told not to disrespect them but maybe we did that a little bit and it ultimately cost us the game. We’re deeply upset.

“The lads take full responsibility for the game. We just didn’t show up. We didn’t play our normal game but moving on to Friday now, I think you’re going to see a completely different animal.”

Connacht beat Bayonne’s Top 14 rivals Montpellier home and away in last season’s Amlin Challenge Cup, and will need to match or better that level of performance in order to get back in contention in Pool 1.

Bayonne are currently ninth in the French Championship table, after five wins and four defeats. They beat Harlequins 16-12 at home in their Amlin Challenge Cup opener, with Joe Pietersen and Sam Gerber scoring tries.

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