Connacht know any chance of catching Munster requires Thomond triumph

Connacht will have Bundee Aki, Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane available for Friday night’s game

Connacht’s Jack Carty is tackled by Fineen Wycherley and Tadhg Beirne of Munster during the Guinness Pro 14 game at the Sportsground in January. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Any hopes of Connacht arresting Munster’s runaway lead of the Guinness Pro 14 conference B will be decided on Friday night in Thomond Park.

Still nine points behind Munster, Connacht are desperate to try to hunt them down and achieve a rare sixth away win on the bounce, and forwards coach Jimmy Duffy says it is all about capitalising on opportunities.

“Munster are flying at the minute, and for us, it’s about staying in the fight for as long as we need to,” he says.

Munster have all the advantages and the last occasion the two sides met in Galway, it was Andy Friend’s side that regretted spurning a golden opportunity to take the spoils when Munster were two players down.


“One key think for us is our accuracy. We really have to capitalise on opportunities as they arise. You won’t get too many chances to fire a shot, and when you do, you have to be efficient and you have to accumulate points,” said Duffy.

“Munster are a massive team, playing really well and they are top of the conference for a very good reason, so we need to stay focused on that task this week.”

Connacht welcome the return of Bundee Aki, Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane from the Ireland camp, while Munster's Craig Casey, Andrew Conway, Shane Daly and Chris Farrell are available for Johann van Graan's side.

Duffy says Connacht are readying themselves for Munster’s traditionally strong maul and scrum, which provided the killer blow in Galway.

“They have a massive pride in their scum and maul. It is a weapon for them and it’s something they go to quite a lot. When you do something a lot and you are good at it, you’d be be foolish to move away from it, so it’s something we are keenly aware of and we have to negate as best we can.

“ Munster are very much in the driving seat, so we are under no illusions.”

However, he says, Connacht will continue to play their high-tempo brand of rugby and keep the ball alive.

“I think we showed that the last day, and when we can amplify it and turn it up, we are efficient and we can score tries, so very much around that is maximising what we can, but we will have to be clinical.”

Missing this week for Connacht will be forward Seán O'Brien with a head injury, while Peter Robb (abdomen) and Quinn Roux (shoulder) are due to start their rehabilitation programmes.