Connacht eager to time run perfectly again for play-offs


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Connacht eager to time run perfectly again for play-offs Connacht eager to time run perfectly again for play-offs


AS the Cheltenham faithful will attest to at this time of year, it’s all about timing your run if you want to succeed and Connacht are hopeful they have started a gallop to the knockout stages of the URC the same way they did last season.

They take on Scarlets this Saturday at the Dexcom Stadium in Galway with eight games remaining in the schedule and while they are currently tenth, they are just four points off Benetton in fourth place.

Five of the remaining matches are at home and five are against teams currently below them in the table, so it’s easy to see why head coach Pete Wilkins is hopeful they can time a run to the knockout stages again, having reached the semi-finals last season.

“When you start to look at what fixtures are coming up, not just for us, but also for those in the top half – and a lot of them haven’t played in South Africa yet or they haven’t played each other – so with that little bit of reflection, it’s not something that disheartens us, but makes us more encouraged, realising how important those four points were in Cardiff,” he said.

They go into Saturday’s clash (5.05pm) on the back of wins at home to Munster and away to Cardiff but they have to plan without in-form versatile back three player Shayne Bolton for the next four to six weeks as the South African native recovers from an ankle injury.

The Irish qualified centre and winger from Pretoria, signed in 2021, had only managed five appearances in his first two seasons at the Sportsground but burst into the side before Christmas and has started the last six games in a row, scoring tries in the Champions Cup against Bristol Bears and against Ulster in the URC.

But he suffered a blow in the opening quarter in the win away to Cardiff last time out. A high tackle earned centre Ray Lee-Lo a straight red card and ended Bolton’s involvement due to concussion, but the Connacht player also suffered an ankle injury in the incident.

“He had that concussion early in the game and he will do the full 12-day protocol around that,” added Wilkins. “But he also injured his ankle in the same incident as he went to ground on the back of that impact to his head and he has done some damage to his ankle.”

Bolton is Connacht’s only fresh injury concern as they bid to build on that 16-12 win in Cardiff when they host a Scarlets side this Saturday who only won twice in ten league games this season.

Pictured: Connacht winger Shayne Bolton who will miss Friday’s home URC encounter against the Scarlets due to injury.

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