Monday 10 December 2018

Connacht up against it as Friend goes on road

Andy Friend. Photo: Sportsfile
Andy Friend. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Andy Friend has brought the good vibes back to Connacht and tonight he takes his show on the road for the first time.

At the end of the night, he'll know a lot more about the job he faces.

With Kieran Marmion back in the No 9 slot and Bundee Aki on the bench, the Australian is dealing with a decent hand as he takes his team to Murrayfield to face a win-less Edinburgh side.

Quite how Richard Cockerill's side are in that position is a bit of a mystery, however, and they'll be desperate to right some wrongs after throwing away victory in Belfast last weekend.

"The plucky losers bit I don't like, being the victim I don't like," the former England hooker said.

"In the end we got what we deserved on Friday because you have to control the key moments.

"We need to make sure we do our things better, so that we are not relying on an official's call in the 82nd minute falling our way. We can be better than that.

"We're at home and Connacht are not dissimilar to ourselves and we need to make sure we play really well.

"I'm not going to put pressure on the team saying it's a must-win, it's a must-win, because I don't think it is.

"What I want is to get the same performance that we got on Friday. If we do that we'll win. "

That's the challenge for a Connacht side who have collected six points from their opening two home games and have unearthed a gem in back-row Paul Boyle.

Friend has given the team a licence to play and Jack Carty looks liberated in the system, but tonight they will rely on their forwards' ability to provide a strong platform against a good pack.

They'll need to keep their discipline with New Zealander Simon Hickey well capable of punishing indiscretions, while the Scots have plenty of threats across a talented backline.

With back-to-back home games coming up, a losing bonus point would be a decent return for a Connacht side looking to keep their momentum going.

Verdict: Edinburgh

EDINBURGH - B Kinghorn; D Fife, J Johnstone, M Scott, D van der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, S McInally (capt), WP Nell; B Toolis, G Glichrist; J Ritchie, H Watson, L Hamilton. Reps: R Ford, A Dell, S Berghan, F McKenzie, M Bradbury, S Kennedy, J van der Walt, JP Socino.

CONNACHT - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, K Godwin, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; C O'Connell, D Heffernan, F Bealham; G Thornbury, U Dillane; S O'Brien, J Butler (capt), P Boyle. Reps: S Delahunt, P McCabe, D Robertson-McCoy, J Cannon, C Fainga'a, C Blade, C Ronaldson, B Aki.

Ref - I Davies (Wales).

Edinburgh v Connacht,

Live, eir Sport, 7.35

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