Connacht left to lick wounds as Italians too strong again


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Connacht left to lick wounds as Italians too strong again Connacht left to lick wounds as Italians too strong again

Benetton 39

Connacht 24

JOHN FALLON in Treviso

PETE Wilkins said that Connacht won’t be dwelling on their disappointing Challenge Cup quarter-final exit in Treviso and are now going to concentrate on nailing a knockout place in the URC.

They have a bit of work to do, starting with Zebre at the Sportsground this Saturday night, but the Connacht head coach said they need to move on quickly and have just one target now.

“We’re disappointed with the result,” said Wilkins. “Benetton deserved the win, the pressure they put on us and some of the errors we made on the back of that, they thoroughly deserved it. I’m disappointed we didn’t play better, I’m disappointed we’re not in the semi-final, but it’s not detracted from the Pau performance.

“Once we processed some of the elements of the performance against Benetton in the changing room over there in Italy after the game, talk quickly turned to the URC and what we want to achieve there this season, but also the importance of setting ourselves up to be playing Champions Cup rugby next season as well,” he added.

Connacht may have been aggrieved two weeks earlier when they got caught at the death by Benetton in the league at Stadio Monigo, but they could have few complaints about the outcome of this European Challenge Cup quarter-final on Sunday as they were brushed aside by the Italians.

Connacht, though, will have regrets, not least in gifting Benetton 14 points in the opening half when they were still in the game but while they battled away, it always looked like too big of an ask to rescue this one despite having Six Nations players Bundee Aki and Finlay Bealham back for this one after they sat out the URC game a fortnight later.

Benetton, who now travel to meet Gloucester in the semi-finals, were good value for their victory but Wilkins’ men got a lifeline just before the end of an opening half that lasted 52 minutes when No.8 Paul Boyle drove over after they worked the ball infield from a lineout, with JJ Hanrahan’s conversion reducing the interval deficit to 26-14 after an opening half where they gifted Benetton two of their four tries.

Pictured: Connacht’s Dave Heffernan who had a mixed outing in their European Challenge Cup defeat to Benetton on Sunday.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up