In almost hurricane like conditions in The Sportsground, Connacht overcame French side Perpignan 22-10 to make it two wins from three in the European Challenge Cup.
 
Andy Friend and the squad now head to the south of France later in the week for the return fixture on Friday night (k/o 7pm).
 
Check out some of the best pics from last weekend’s tie.

Connacht made it four wins on the bounce last Saturday after coming away with a 22-10 victory over Perpignan in torrid conditions at The Sportsground.
 
The win moves Andy Friend’s side up to 8 points in the European Challenge Cup, 6 clear of Perpignan and Bordeaux but still some distance behind Sale Sharks who have picked up a maximum 15 points.
 
Here’s Friend’s post-match press conference in which he discusses the performance, the weather and some of the injury concerns heading into the Christmas period.
 

Connacht 22

Perpignan 10

 

In difficult, almost hurricane like conditions at times, Connacht claimed a 12 point victory over Top14 side Perpignan, in the first instalment of back to back clashes in the European Challenge Cup. With two wins from three in the competition, another win away to Perpignan in six days’ time will set up a top of the table clash at home to Sale in January.

With conditions extremely difficult for both teams, forwards were also going to be the stars of the show, and so it was that international lock Quinn Roux was deservedly named Man of the Match after a powerful display.

With the wind at their backs, Connacht made the best possible start when Darragh Leader ran a brilliant line to pick up a pass 10 metres out and touch down under the posts with nine minutes on the clock. Connacht were patient in attack and after going through the phases they were rewarded eleven minutes later when Bundee Aki drove for the line and got Connacht’s second try despite the best efforts of three Perpignan defenders. When David Horwitz added his second conversion and Connacht looked in control with a quarter of the game played.

Perpignan came to life after that second try but a combination of handling errors and difficult conditions meant that they never challenged the Connacht line. Going in at the break Connacht would have felt they were deserving of their 14 – 0 lead and with an excellent opportunity for a third try on the stroke of half time, it could have been an even more significant lead.

 

The second half was all about possession for Connacht and they bravely went through phase after phase but found it difficult to gain ground now playing into the stormy conditions. With a penalty on 44 minutes, Connacht opted to kick for the posts and the successful kick by Horwitz proved to be the right the decision, giving increased daylight between the sides.

Perpignan kicked their first points of the game six minutes into the second half to give them some hope of a comeback.

On the sixty sixth minute the French side got a try against the run of play and when they converted, all off a sudden the scoreboard read only 17 – 10 in Connacht’s favour. The French men went on the attack again and went through the phases inside the Connacht 22. But hard work in defence forced a turnover and Connacht introduced some fresh legs to good effect.

 

Replacement scrum half Caolin Blade made a typical sniping run through the Perpignan defence and was held up just short of the line. Moments later, Kyle Godwin made his mark when he backed himself on the outside and powered over for Connacht’s third try with four minutes remaining on the clock.

 

Connacht had one more attack when they went in search of the fourth try but it wasn’t to be and the game finished out with a twelve point victory for the home side.

 

 

CONNACHT: 15. Darragh Leader, 14. Cian Kelleher, 13. Kieran Joyce, 12. Bundee Aki (Kyle Godwin 67′), 11. Matt Healy, 10. David Horwitz (Conor Fitzgerald 58′), 9. James Mitchell (Caolin Blade 70′); 1. Peter McCabe, 2. Dave Heffernan (captain), 3. Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson McCoy 60′), 4. Joe Maksymiw (Gavin Thornbury 60′), 5. Quinn Roux, 6. Eoghan Masterson (Paul Boyle 68′), 7. Colby Fainga’a, 8. James Connolly.

PERPIGNAN: 15. Jonathan Bousquet (captain), 14. Tima Fainga’anuku, 13. Pierre Lucas (Afusipa Taumoepeau 56′), 12. Paul Marty (Julien Farnoux 62′), 11. Eroni Sau, 10. Enzo Selponi, 9. Sadek Degmache; 1. Quentin Walcker (Kevin Tougne 56′), 2. Raphael Carbou (Manu Leiataua 41′), 3. Nicolas Lemaire (Sylvain Charlet 60′), 4. Yoann Vivalda, 5. Berend Botha (Alban Roussel 56′), 6. Johan Van Heerden, 7. Pierre Reynaud, 8. Michael Faleafa (Edoardo Iachizzi 60′).

Attendance: 5,011.

Referee: Karl Dickson [RFU].

 

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This is the happiest thing you’ll see all day…
 
7 year old Culáin is a Connacht Rugby superfan. Now he’ll get the opportunity money can’t buy and run out with the team onto the field for a crucial European fixture.
 
Thanks to our partners Good 4 U, Culáin has won the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a Connacht Rugby mascot after winning their mascot competition…and we think his reaction says it all!
 

See you at the game Culáin!

Connacht are boosted by the return of Irish internationals Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux for the European Challenge Cup clash with Perpignan in The Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Aki forms a midfield partnership with 22 year old Academy player Kieran Joyce who is set to make his Connacht debut.

Bealham’s return to the front row sees him line up alongside hooker Dave Heffernan who captains the side and loosehead Peter McCabe. With three appearances off the bench so far this season, lock Joe Maksymiw comes in for his first start alongside the experienced Quinn Roux.

In the back row, Eoghan Masterson has returned from an injury which has kept him out of action so far this season and is named at blindside. Colby Fainga’a starts at openside having impressed in the back-to-back wins on the tour to South Africa.

There is a new half-back pairing as David Horwitz is named at out-half alongside James Mitchell at scrum-half.

In the back three, Darragh Leader comes in at full-back while Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher occupy the wings.

Head Coach Andy Friend feels he has the right balance of youth and experience to challenge the Top 14 side; “It is great to have three of our internationals back in the side. Bundee, Finlay and Quinn are hugely experienced, and it is important to have them back. But we also have a few new faces who are getting their chance to shine. Joe Maksymiw has made a few appearances off the bench and comes in for his first start and Kieran Joyce from our Academy partners Bundee in midfield. They have proven in training that they are ready for the step up and I have every confidence in them”, Friend said.

Friend also says that these back-to-back clashes against Perpignan will have a huge say in Connacht’s progress in the Challenge Cup; “These two games will tell a lot. We have won one and lost one so far so these back-to-back games will have a huge say in where we stand in this competition. The mood in the squad is hugely positive. We are seeing some really strong competition developing for places and that is important. We want to take our good form into the Challenge Cup especially in front of our home crowd”.

#CHEvPER

Kick-off 3pm:
(15-9) Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Kieran Joyce, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, David Horwitz, James Mitchell, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan (Capt), Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, James Connolly, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Kyle Godwin.

 

There are still tickets available for the game with some areas selling fast.

 

GET PERPIGNAN TICKETS HERE - LIMITED AVAILABILTY!

Connacht return to action at The Sportsground for the first time in over a month this Saturday when Perpignan pay a visit for our third game in the European Challenge Cup.
 
Ahead of the tie Andy Friend spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference, discussing the challenge that lay ahead of what kind of team will take to the field.
 
You can watch his thoughts below:
 

After a mammoth journey back home from an ultimately successful mini-tour of South Africa, the Connacht squad were back at the Sportsground today with attention turning to Saturday’s European Challenge Cup clash with Perpignan.
 
Take a look at some of the best pics below, and keep an eye on connachtrugby.ie tomorrow for an interview with Head Coach Andy Friend.
 

Our next home tie comes on Saturday week when we host Perpignan for the first of back-to-back games against the French side in the European Challenge Cup. Here’s an update on what tickets are available:
 
As always the Clan Stand is sold out to Season Ticket holders, while the Grant Thornton Stand and Enclosure are also now sold out. There is *very limited availability* remaining in the Main Stand, but we expect the remaining tickets to be snapped up in the coming days.
 
There are still tickets available for the Bohermore Road and College Road Ends, but we’d encourage fans to purchase online in advance of the game where they’ll get the best prices compared to at the gate.
 
Kick off at The Sportsground on Saturday 8th December is at 3pm.
 
GET PERPIGNAN TICKETS HERE - LIMITED AVAILABILTY!

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