By John O’Sullivan

 

Head coach Andy Friend says that Connacht will need to be clinical in order to return to winning ways in the Guinness PRO14 away to the Dragons at 7:35 pM on Friday evening. 

 

The Westerners go into the clash at Rodney Parade looking to make amends after a 26-20 reversal at home to the Ospreys two weekends ago.

 

The hosts, meanwhile, were also defeated by the Swansea based team in their last PRO14 game and Friend says that Connacht will need to take the scoring opportunities they create against the Welshmen to seal a win.

 

“For us, it’s going to be about our execution. That’s the area we haven’t been as clinical in as we have needed to be of late. That’s something we have been working to get is to make sure that we nail those opportunities when we get them. That’s going to be paramount,” the Australian said.

 

“It’s about turning up there and when the opportunities we create — which we are creating a lot — and we get into that ‘A zone’ we have to be far more formidable. To win away from home, that’s what you have to do.”

 

Friend recently renewed his contract to stay with the western province for another two years and he said that the decision to extend his deal was easy to make, given his faith in the project at the club.

 

After joining Connacht in the summer of 2018, the former Australian sevens coach said that he is eager to build on the work of the past two and a half years at the Sportsground, especially given the encouraging support from the club and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

 

“I said at the time it was announced that it was a pretty easy decision,” the head coach said.

 

“Once we got our heads around — my wife and I — our family situation and knowing we will be spending time with them soon hopefully.  We’re very keen to see them. That’s not a Connacht issue that’s a world issue.  And also knowing that Connacht were going to give us support — that has been mooted from the IRFU — so once those two things came through, it was a pretty easy decision for us.

 

“I am at a place now where I am very comfortable. It doesn’t mean I have stopped learning, I’m learning all the time. We believe — I say we, my wife and I — we found a place here in Galway, with Connacht, that we really do enjoy and I do believe we’re building something special and I would love to see it through.”

 

Elsewhere, hooker Shane Delahunt says that the mood in the camp is positive ahead of Friday evening’s trip to Wales.

 

After a week off last weekend, the squad, he says, are re-energized and keen to return to winning ways against the Dragons and are looking to bring a consistent performance across the entire 80 minutes.

 

”The mood is good,” the Offaly native noted.

 

“The weather’s obviously not good, we could do with better weather to train in but that’s part and parcel of being here. I think the mood is good. I think the game is a must-win if we have any aspirations of going forward.

 

“Consistency has probably been our problem over the last few weeks. There’s been a lot of ups and downs. It’s probably consistency within games as well. We’ve been really good in parts, but there have been a few minutes here and there where we knocked off and it’s affected us massively in regards to getting a result.

 

“We’re looking forward to this weekend. A week off last week, so we’re happy to get going.”

 

Delahunt, 27, said that Friend’s contract renewal is great news for the club and praised the Australian’s honest man-management style and the impact it has had on his career to date.

 

“It’s great to get some clarity, no matter what way it happened,” the former Lansdowne player said of the head coach’s contract renewal.

 

“It was obviously a no brainer for Connacht to keep him on. His man-management is second to none and he’s a bright person around the place, which is important. What he’s done for me is he’s been honest with me and that’s all I can ask from him because that’s the kind of person I am. I’m straight up and what you see is what you get and I like that in return and that’s the way he’s been with me and I think that’s helped me over the last three years.”

 

 

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