Saturday 15 December 2018

Countdown starts to knockout tussle

Stock picture
Stock picture

Declan Rooney

With just seven weeks to go before knockout European rugby returns to the Sportsground for the first time since 2010, excitement is already building ahead of the arrival of English Premiership side Gloucester.

The College Road venue is expected to be a sell-out on Saturday, March 31 for the Challenge Cup clash with familiar opponents.

Most recently Connacht faced Gloucester in the Champions Cup play-off in May 2015, which ended in a heartbreaking 40-32 controversial defeat for Pat Lam's side.

That loss was made all the tougher to digest due to the defeat that Gloucester had inflicted on Connacht in the Challenge Cup quarter-final at Kingsholm a couple of months earlier.

The English club have a bright history in the competition and were runners-up last year, losing to Stade Francais in the final, while they have reached the knock-out stages in the last five years and won the competition in 2014-15.

With four wins from six games Gloucester trailed behind the perfect Pau in Pool 3, but were still the competition's second-best try-scorers with 37, compared to Connacht's 29.

Tomorrow the club return to Premiership action with a home game against Leicester Tigers, but they will hope to improve on last weekend's loss to Newcastle in the Anglo Welsh Cup.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport