Connacht Rugby v Leicester Tigers: preview

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Galway Daily sport Three changes to Connacht lineup against Ulster tonight
photo credit: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Andy Friend has said that playing with their trademark speed and creativity, while maintaining discipline, is the best option for Connacht against Leicester this weekend.

Connacht and the Leicester Tigers will meet in the European Challenge Cup this Saturday at Weldron Road, with kick-off at 7:45pm.

Leicester play a very physical game, and Friend says Connacht will need to work hard to limit their attacking opportunities, and get in some early opportunities to keep the Tigers playing catch up.

“Not too dissimilar to what you saw when we beat Leinster at the RDS, we outworked them and we outworked them early and we got some scores on the board and then they had to chase.”

“Our intent, both with and without the football, we’ll be able to see that. If we don’t have the footy, our desire is to go up and shut down their time and space.”

“When we do have the ball, we’ll have to win those collisions, but if we do we’ll have to be brave enough to play as well,” Andy Friend said

Paul Boyle says that Connacht have put a lot of work into their defence at training heading into the Leicester game, and is confident there won’t be a repeat of what he feels was a defensive let down against the Scarlets.

Connacht narrowly fell to the Scarlets 41 – 36 in their last Guinness PRO14 outing, failing to make it into the finals.

“We put a huge focus on it this week and we have trained really well. We’re looking forward to going after them this week defensively,” Boyle said.

Boyle — who represented Ireland at under 20’s level — said that the remaining games, both in Europe and the Rainbow Cup, will be a shop window for Connacht players to put their hands up for international selection.

Andy Friend described the Challenge Cup as Chapter Two of the current campaign by Connacht Rugby, giving them another chance to take home a trophy this season.

“We didn’t make that final [PRO14], and it was disappointing. We keep talking about it as a squad, winning silverware, and we’ve put ourselves in a position where we’re in the top 16 and if you win five games you win silverware.

“That would be the intention — certainly, it is my intention — and I know as a group of coaches and players that is our collective intention. We want to go and win it.”

“So, there is pressure on the game. We know that Connacht’s form against English sides hasn’t been great over the course of history, so we get an opportunity to go and correct that.”

“We know we’re up against a very formidable side, so it’s no mean feat but we’re going there — and I want us to put pressure on ourselves — to perform because this is the mark of sides that can show the growth that I believe is taking place here.”