Eric Elwood urges Connacht to meet Ulster head-on in Friday night’s Pro12 clash

Province not getting carried away by third away win

The Edinburgh and Connacht packs get to grips with each other last weekend. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Inpho

The Edinburgh and Connacht packs get to grips with each other last weekend. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Inpho


Connacht coach Eric Elwood is not getting carried away by last weekend’s first victory in Murrayfield since 2005 when they host RaboDirect Pro 12 leaders Ulster on Friday evening.

Continuing to search for a third successive best league finish, Connacht have already gone one better than last year’s results when securing their eighth victory, in Scotland, which represents an improved away record. However Elwood says his team still have a point to prove in Friday’s derby.

“It was the first time we have had three away victories in the year. It was a good victory, without getting carried away, because it means nothing if we cannot back it up against Ulster,” he says. “We have a point to prove in that were nilled up in Belfast and that’s a big incentive. We were disappointed with our away performances in the derby fixtures so we have another opportunity for four points here.”

After last weekend’s 32-24 win, Elwood was forced to restrict training yesterday. “We had a lot of guys who were not able to train or had knocks and bruises, so we just had a unit session with the forwards, but is saying that Rodney Ah You has tonsillitis so was kept away from the squad and will probably not train tomorrow. We are thin on the ground with props so we need to get him back.”

Eoin Griffin is a concern for this week, having suffering a head knock, but continues to be monitored, while captain Gavin Duffy is nursing a shoulder injury. Eoin McKeon suffered rib cartilage damage in training, while Nathan White is to see a specialist on Friday for a damaged knee. Willie Faloon and Jason Harris Wright are making steady progress, and Elwood hopes they might return the last home fixture against Ulster as could Johnny O’Connor.

Elwood said his team responded to the pressure last weekend and they needed to follow it up. “Ulster have had a couple of glitches in the campaign and we know if they get another victory, they get a home semi-final. The key for us is we cannot shy away from the physicality.”

Last year Connacht secured a 26-21 win, and Elwood says more will be expected of his pack. “There is extra spice – it’s a derby match and they are looking for a home semi-final and we are still looking four our best finish, so we can expect it will be a ding-dong battle.”