Connacht’s fate no longer in own hands after heavy loss


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Connacht’s fate no longer in own hands after heavy loss Connacht’s fate no longer in own hands after heavy loss

Munster 47

Connacht 12


Previous poor results by Connacht such as the home loss to the Lions were softened by results elsewhere going in the Westerners’ favour, but this heavy defeat at Thomond Park on Saturday has been exacerbated by just about every other game also going wrong for Pete Wilkins’ men at the weekend.

The net result is that Connacht are no longer in control of their own destiny and are now dependent on games elsewhere going in their favour in addition to themselves doing the business at home to the Stormers on Saturday (5;15pm) and away to European finalists Leinster in their final match of the URC roster.

At stake is a not only a place in the knockout stages but also qualification for next season’s Champions Cup. Connacht’s campaign will end on May 31 if they miss out and will next season be in the European Challenge Cup — a competition a lot of teams treat with indifference — and in that backwater is not where they need to be a year out from opening a €40m stadium.

That heaps the pressure on Wilkins and his men and they can’t look any further than Saturday’s clash at home to the Stormers. Lose that and the final game against Leinster could be immaterial.

“It obviously makes the Stormers a must-win game. I am not afraid to say that,” said Wilkins after his team were hammered by seven tries to two by a Munster side who exacted revenge for their New Year’s Day loss in Galway.

“We have to ensure that we put ourselves back in a stronger position – and particularly with the other results, it doesn’t help us. I have no doubt about the strength of character of the lads to respond next week, it’s too big an opportunity and too big of an occasion for us as a club not to respond. But it frustrates me that we have to be looking for a response.”

Pictured: Connacht winger Byron Ralston who scored both their tries in Saturday’s heavy United Rugby Championship defeat to Munster at Thomond Park.

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