Tuesday 17 October 2017

Euro rivals get off to a mixed start

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Stock picture

Declan Rooney

It is only six weeks before Connacht launch their Challenge Cup campaign away to Oyonnax on October 14, but already it seems as if they will pose a considerable challenge to Kieran Keane's side.

In their first season back in the top tier, Oyonnax looked mighty impressive as they battled their way to a 23-23 draw at home to Toulouse in round one of the Top 14.

Their big signing of the off season was former Harlequins and Montpellier out-half Ben Botica, and he has already delivered with a try-scoring start and a solid kicking display to deny Toulouse the win.

But they are likely to be tested this weekend when they travel to Montpellier, the only team to claim a bonus-point win from round one.

Elsewhere in the Top 14, Connacht's opponents in December's back-to-back fixtures, Brive, slipped to a 19-10 defeat at home to La Rochelle, and will hope to claim win number one when they make the trip east to face Lyon.

Connacht's second game will be at the Sportsground when Donncha O'Callaghan leads his Worcester Warriors into battle. Last week the former Ireland lock and his ex-international colleague Peter Stringer were unable to deny their former Munster team the win in their final pre-season warm-up.

They'll hope to fare better this evening away to Newcastle and get their Premiership season off to a bright start.

Irish Independent

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