Following the 40-10 bonus point win over Zebre on Saturday evening, the Connacht squad resumed training in Galway earlier today.
Pat Lam’s men jumped to seventh place in the GUINNESS PRO12 standings and will be looking to ramp up the preparations ahead of the visit of league leaders, the Ospreys, to the Sportsground next Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
An intriguing battle for sixth spot and automatic European Champions Cup qualification will be decided in next weekend’s final round. The Scarlets (sixth, 53 points), Connacht (seventh, 49) and Edinburgh (48) all still have a mathematical chance of finishing sixth, with the Welsh side’s 16-6 derby defeat of Cardiff Blues putting them in pole position.
Lam’s charges know that a victory over the Ospreys could be enough for either automatic Champions Cup qualification or seventh overall. The Scarlets wrap up the regular season with a trip to Benetton Treviso, while Edinburgh and Leinster will clash at BT Murrayfield.
Whoever finish seventh in the PRO12 will face a play-off away to European Challenge Cup champions Gloucester, with the winners of that game taking on the seventh-placed Top 14 team to contest the final Champions Cup place. These matches will be played on the weekends of the PRO12 semi-finals and final.
Speaking after the match in Parma, Lam told reporters: “The boys did the job they needed to do and now it’s important to have a good build-up for this massive occasion (against the Ospreys).
“I am aware how big this is, to go to the last round of the PRO12 with so much riding on the result. The Ospreys, who beat Glasgow, are coming, but we are now ahead of Edinburgh, while the Scarlets still have to win in Treviso which is not easy.”
While Darragh Leader has been ruled out of action for the rest of the season with a fractured finger, Danie Poolman also picked up a hand injury during the Zebre game. The South African-born winger will undergo an X-ray and an update will be provided later in the week.