PREVIEW: Zebre v Connacht

20 November 2020

PREVIEW: Zebre v Connacht
By John O’Sullivan 


Forwards coach Jimmy Duffy says that Connacht will need to be efficient when close to the try line to win away to Zebre in Sunday’s 14:30 Guinness PRO14 kick-off. 


In the Westerners’ last outing, a 20-14 defeat at home to The Scarlets, they created ample chances to add to the two tries they scored but couldn’t add the finishing touches to moves, despite crossing the try line on four more occasions.


While Duffy is pleased that Connacht were able to create so many opportunities to score, especially in the wild weather that accompanied the clash with the Welshmen at the Sportsground, he said there will need to be greater attacking efficiency on display in Parma. 


“It’s something we would put a lot of emphasis on in our club,” the Galway native said when asked whether the rolling maul would be an area of the game where the visitors would look to impose themselves against the Italian’s on Sunday. 


“When you get to that zone(close to the line), it’s either that(the rolling maul) or your pick and go game that’s got to be strong. Because of the penalty sanctions around the breakdown, you must be efficient when you get your opportunities. Five metres out or seven metres out, your drive has to be efficient and the same with your close-knit game. They(Zebre) have a good maul as well, so both teams are focusing on those three or four key areas and it’s paying dividends at the moment.”


In the Scarlets’ defeat, Connacht’s two tries -- dotted down by Abraham Papali’i and Ultan Dillane respectively -- came from close confines near the try line after powerful carries from the pack to establish field position. While the loss was disappointing, Duffy was pleased with that, forward-oriented element of the game. 


“We work very hard in that area. We just have to keep maintaining the work and the effort in there. We scored two in that phase of play and in that style of play(against Scarlets) and we just knocked one over the line, it was just an individual error. Creation is the hardest part, but we’re creating. Converting is what we want to focus on this weekend,” the former Connacht player said.


Elsewhere, centre Tom Farrell says that the mood in the camp is positive ahead of the trip to the Italians, and last weekend's defeat has been learned from and the players have moved on. 


The 27-year-old appeared off the bench in the 20-14 reversal to the Scarlets and says that he -- along with the rest of the squad -- is keen to make amends on Sunday.


“The mood is always positive, it’s an enjoyable place to be. Although we lost on the weekend, we’ll park it, we’ll move on and we’ll stay positive,” the former Bedford Blues man said. 

“We’ll trust our game plan and what the coaches have put in place for us”. 


Zebre were defeated heavily by Ulster 14-57 in their last game, but Farrell says the Italians -- who may welcome back some of their Italian international contingent after the Fiji versus Italy Nations Cup game was called off -- will prove to be tough opposition. 


“We’re fully aware of the challenge. They’ve had a mixed bag of results, but I don’t think the Ulster game is a fair reflection of the team they are. They beat the Ospreys and they ran the Scarlets pretty close. They have a really strong team and strong squad to put out, so we’re fully aware going over that this is a massive game for us, considering we lost points last week. We’re going to send a strong team over and look to do a job.”