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Connacht up against it

THIS is as important to both provinces for the state it will leave them in for the first round of matches in the Heineken Cup as for the actual difference it will make on the PRO12 ladder.

Ulster v Connacht, Ravenhill


Coach Brian McLaughlin must be palpably deflated by the three wins from seven matches his players have returned from the start of the season, a time when other clubs have been far harder hit by World Cup absentees.

Worse again, the four reverses have come in succession to leave the players short on confidence, Benetton Treviso bringing their nine-match winning home run to an abrupt end last time out.

Connacht cannot exactly be content with a similar start to the season, even though coach Eric Elwood has been swimming against the tide of 15 exports at the end of last season.

The pages of history are also against The Westerners.

They have executed a single win away to Irish opposition in the history of this competition, way back in 2002 against Leinster at Donnybrook.