Monday 26 June 2017

Primed for more French heroics

Robbie Henshaw goes through his stretching routine during Connacht's training session at the Kingfisher Club Sport Centre, Galway this week (SPORTSFILE)
Robbie Henshaw goes through his stretching routine during Connacht's training session at the Kingfisher Club Sport Centre, Galway this week (SPORTSFILE)

John Fallon

Connacht will bid to extend their highly impressive record on French soil and in the process go a long way towards securing a quarter-final spot in the Challenge Cup when they take on Brive tomorrow night.

Connacht were the first Irish province to win a competitive game in France when Warren Gatland's men defeated Begles-Bordeaux 15-9 back in the 1997-98 season.

A win against Brive tomorrow night in the Limousin region would be Connacht's 12th in France, and the side based at Stade Amedee-Domenech would be the 11th that they have beaten in their own backyard.

It's an impressive run of results against French opposition, and the 21-17 home win over Brive in November was their 33rd victory in 57 meetings with French teams in Europe.

Tries from Rory Parata, Ben Marshall and Kieran Marmion helped secure Connacht's first win in three European meetings with Brive.

The sides last met in the 2007-08 season when Brive triumphed 15-6 at Stade Amedee Domenech and then came away from the Sportsground with a 22-15 victory.

The 1996-97 Heineken Cup winners - they were beaten 19-18 by Bath in the final the following year - have been going well in the Top 14 and are sixth on 32 points, six off Racing 92, Clermont Auvergne and Toulouse at the top.

They have won five of their six home matches with only Clermont leaving Stade Amedee Domenech this season with a victory under their belt.

Their defence has been outstanding, conceding just 205 points in 12 ties; only Toulouse (173) have leaked fewer.

But Brive have found scoring difficult and their haul of 224 points is the third lowest in the Top 14 with only Pau (204) in 12th place and Oyonnax (217) one below them, scoring fewer this season.

Pat Lam's men will take confidence from that, knowing that every point will be vital tomorrow night if they are to extend that superb winning record in France and Brive becomes the latest venue that they come away from with a win.

Aside from that historic win over Begles-Bordeaux, Connacht have won in Mont de Marsan, Beziers, Narbonne, Grenoble, Montpellier (twice), Dax, Bayonne, Toulouse and La Rochelle.

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