Tuesday 6 December 2016

Aly ready to set record straight

John Fallon

Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30

Aly Muldowney captained Connacht for the first time in the 25-10 win over Newcastle last weekend. Picture credit: Gareth Everett / SPORTSFILE
Aly Muldowney captained Connacht for the first time in the 25-10 win over Newcastle last weekend. Picture credit: Gareth Everett / SPORTSFILE

Connacht will hope to take a step closer to a quarter-final spot in the Challenge Cup - and also improve a poor record away to English teams - when they travel to Newcastle on Sunday.

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This will be the 17th trip Connacht have made to England in the Challenge Cup and only twice have they returned home with victories.

They have played nine English teams over the past two decades and this weekend will make the trip to Kingston Park in Newcastle where they are looking for their first victory.

Ironically, Connacht's first trip to England resulted in a major victory when they defeated a star-studded Northampton Saints side 20-15 in 1997-'98.

But the next ten visits ended in defeats, with the run finally broken in the 2009-'10 campaign when Connacht defeated Worcester Warriors 26-21 at Sixways Stadium.

The Stoop is the only English ground that Connacht have played in three times in the Challenge Cup.

This is the third trip to Kingston Park, having lost 23-3 in the 2005-'06 quarter-finals before going down 39-0 there in a pool match two seasons later.

There were also double defeats recorded away to Sale Sharks and Gloucester over the years, while single visits to London Irish, Bath and Exeter did not yield a victory.

Victory on Sunday would end a four-match losing run in England for Connacht in the Challenge Cup, including last season's pool and play-off losses away to Gloucester at Kingsholm.

And former Exeter Chiefs lock Aly Muldowney believes Connacht are poised to maintain their winning run in Pool 1 of this season's competition when they will bid to do the double over the Falcons on Sunday.

The 32-year-old captained Connacht for the first time in the 25-10 win over Newcastle last weekend.

"It was a huge honour, it was a very proud moment for myself and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully, we will now back up that performance this weekend," he said.

"They are a strong team, they have got some really good players, very physical, very direct and we know that. We knew that we just had to be patient in that game and we could get on top of them. And it will be the same this weekend."

Irish Independent

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