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Connacht earn stripes

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Connacht's Sean Henry. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

Connacht's Sean Henry. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

Connacht's Sean Henry. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

THIS already has a Wooden Spoon feel about it after the two heavyweights Saracens and Toulouse slugged it out in Wembley last night.

Zebre v Connacht, Stadio XXV Aprile, Tomorrow (KO 1.35)

It would be nothing short of catastrophic for Connacht to become the first club to fall to Zebre in the Italians' eighth match in the Heineken Cup.

Moreover, it does seem a touch ridiculous that a newly created entity enjoys free passage, under the current guidelines, into what is billed as the premier club competition in world rugby.

The best Zebre have managed in seven attempts is to twice come within ten points of Connacht in last season's tournament. They have improved since then.

The Connacht set-piece will be crucial. They need to reach the same level of intensity that almost buckled Saracens in what would have been the shock of the first round.

Thankfully, their hooker Sean Henry stood alone as the only thrower to take a 100pc return from all eleven of his darts against Saracens.

The challenge is to take their home form with them on the road to what is the least glamorous venue. The familiarity from the PRO12 League should suit Zebre. It shouldn't be enough.

Verdict: Connacht


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