Friday 17 January 2020

Carty full-back gambit shows Friend will not back off in bold Euro bid


Jack Carty in action. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jack Carty in action. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Alan Quinlan

Alan Quinlan

David Dunworth was a grizzled Aussie prop who brooked little argument once he left the sheds.

"Sent off, carried off, but never backed off," he once said; his compatriot, Connacht coach Andy Friend, would appreciate the sentiment.

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His side face a High Noon appointment with their future in European competition; their determination not to take a backward step perhaps revealed by an audacious selection gambit.

A complicated sequence of injuries has perhaps partly played a hand.

And yet, deciding to switch the currently fitful Jack Carty to the less pressurised full-back slot, thus allowing his in-form erstwhile deputy Conor Fitzgerald to remain at No 10, is a bold move befitting the nature of today's task.

Gloucester's removal of their enigmatic pivot, Danny Cipriani, to a bench brimful of last-quarter menace, perhaps hints at tentative ambiguity on the visitors' part.

Neither of these sides are in a realistic position, nor perhaps good enough, to challenge for a last-eight slot.

And while Gloucester's selection is one with domestic matters in mind, Friend won't succumb wondering; if last week's game was slightly madcap, this could top it.

The locals know that without Carty's intercept and the self-imposed pressure forcing Kyle Godwin's yellow, events could have been over-turned in Kingsholm; at times, the Irish side made their opponents look much better than they really are.

Gloucester know as much, too; predictably, both sides moaned about their own breakdown.

Connacht fans won't have happy memories of the Frenchman following their Champions Cup play-off defeat four seasons ago. The opposition? Gloucester.

Verdict: Connacht

Connacht - J Carty; N Adeolokun, K Godwin, B Aki, J Porch; C Fitzgerald, C Blade; P McCabe, D Heffernan, D Robertson McCoy; U Dillane, J Maksymiw; E McKeon, J Butler (capt), P Boyle. Reps: S Delahunt, D Buckley, F Bealham, N Murray, E Masterson, S Kerins, T Daly, R Copeland.

Gloucester - M Banahan; L Rees-Zammit, B Twelvetrees, M Atkinson, O Thorley; L Evans, C Braley; J Hohneck, T Gleave, F Balmain; A Craig, G Grobler; F Clarke, L Ludlow capt, R Ackermann. Reps: F Marais, A Seville, J Ford-Robinson, F Mostert, B Morgan, J Simpson, D Cipriani, C Harris.

Ref - R Poite (France). Connacht v Gloucester Live, BT Sport 2, 12.45

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