Disjointed Connacht survive poor performance in Parma

Connacht captain Jared Butler who produced a strong finish in their narrow PRO14 win over Zebre last Saturday,
Connacht captain Jared Butler who produced a strong finish in their narrow PRO14 win over Zebre last Saturday,

Zebre   5

Connacht 6

Rob Murphy at Stadio Lanfranchi

EVERYONE take a deep breath. Connacht are still on track. This was almost a major low point but somehow the men in green survived in Parma on Saturday evening and now just need one more win this weeKend to crown the season a success. Just one win, to book a place in the PRO14 play offs and secure their spot in next season’s Champions Cup.

Two measly first half penalties from Jack Carty was enough to edge one of the worst spectacles of rugby this competition has seen in years. This was so awful it actually wouldn’t rank as the least entertaining because you just couldn’t help but watch, transfixed by the developing story of a potential calamitous conclusion to Connacht’s season.

For long periods of the second half, it looked like Connacht were about to cough up an unlikely defeat but somehow they found the wherewithal to hang on to the final whistle and thus move four points clear of this week’s visitors to the Sportsground, the Cardiff Blues, with just two rounds remaining. It all now means that a win of any kind on Saturday will be enough to book a top three spot in the Conference.

The official Connacht verdict outside the dressing rooms in the immediate aftermath was that this was a game where the referee failed to take control of proceedings from the off and one that descended into a ragged mess as a result. In that sense, Andy Friend and co were adamant that the resilience and patience shown by the Westerners during a frustrating second half was all that should be focused upon.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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