Friday 28 July 2017

Elwood sights set on derby dates

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

CONNACHT were 'baled' out by a local farmer this weekend but it's unlikely they'll be able to revive their ailing Challenge Cup hopes.

Volunteers gathered to spread straw over the Sportsground surface to help ensure Friday's European clash with Harlequins goes ahead but, with Eric Elwood's men five points behind both Harlequins and Bayonne in Pool 1, they'll be forgiven if their focus switches to Magners League derbies against Munster and Leinster, not to mention the vital encounter with the Dragons on January 6.

"We need to get a win under out belts this weekend to get confidence before going back into the Magners League with two derby matches against Munster and Leinster and a crucial game against the Dragons," said Elwood.

"We're doing a lot of good work in defence but the offensive side of things is a bit frustrating at the moment. Derby matches in the Magners are very important to everybody. We've got two big ones against Munster and Leinster.

"It might be exciting for the supporters but for us they're quite demanding. They're big fixtures and there's no rest now. We've got the two derby matches and then a five-day turnaround to play the Dragons. It's tough going. It's enjoyable if you win them, though."

Harlequins might travel with a weakened squad too but will have scrum-half Danny Care back and captain Chris Robshaw is looking to put back-to-back victories over the province.

"English teams do quite well in the Challenge Cup and we want to do the same," Elwood added. "You always want to do well in Europe and you want to play against the best players out there. Our aim is to progress well in this tournament, use it as a springboard and build some momentum."

Irish Independent

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