REVENGE! That’s what will fuel the fire for a Connacht side that look to gain some retribution over a Benetton Treviso outfit that defeated them last season and ultimately cost them a top spot finish in the Pro12 table when sides do battle in the Sportsground on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.
When the sides last met in the spring, Connacht were flying high at the top of the table, whereas the Italian side, like this season, were propping up the bottom. But form clearly went out the window, as a punishing Treviso forward line made things incredibly difficult for a free-flowing Connacht unit and they managed to grind out a home victory by the slenderest of margins, on a scoreline of 22-21.
In the end, the defeat had no real significance for Connacht but forwards coach, Jimmy Duffy stated the game was invaluable in terms of squad improvement and realising the mammoth battle Connacht had ahead of them in their attempt to capture the crown.
“What we did last year is we created some opportunities and didn’t probably capitalise. While it’s the same side, it’s a different time and while I wouldn’t say we have changed our preparation because we prepared very well last season, but you just take those learnings with you. Things that didn’t work so well on the day, maybe a tactical thing or an individual or skill error, we could focus on.
“It was probably one of the better lessons we had throughout the season. As a group we kind of re-evaluated and refocused, but it wasn’t an accident, they are a good side over there.”
During the Pat Lam era, Treviso have defeated Connacht twice and despite receiving a 46-3 walloping last weekend at the hands of Munster, Duffy is very wary of the threat of a possible backlash.
“There always is. They have threats all over the field. They have an excellent scrum, a huge forward pack and they have some pretty exciting backs. They always perform against Connacht and that’s what we are keenly aware of and we will be preparing for them like we would any other opposition.”
Ivan Soroka (foot), Andrew Browne (ankle), Rory Moloney (concussion), Eoghan Masterson (knee), Shane O’Leary (concussion), Josh Rowland (ankle), Darragh Leader (hand) and Eoin Griffin (chest) all remain unavailable for selection. Griffin in particular won’t see action until March after undergoing surgery on a chest muscle injury. While Craig Ronaldson also looks set to miss the clash while waiting for results of a scan on a thigh injury which forced his early withdrawal from last weekend’s Cardiff game.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.