Eagles host Ealing in B&I Cup
The Connacht Eagles face a stern challenge at the Sportsground on Sunday (2pm) as they seek to defeat one of the English Championship's best sides, Ealing Trailfinders, and claim their first B&I Cup win of the season.
Second place in the second tier of English rugby, Ealing have just one defeat to their name this season - a last-gasp loss to Pat Lam's Bristol side - and if their 67-12 win over Richmond last week is anything to go by, they certainly are keen to transfer that form into the cross-border competition.
But Eagles too can take plenty of encouragement from their 28-23 defeat to Rotherham Titans. Tries from Naulia Dawai and Dave Heffernan, and a fine kicking display from Luke Carty, saw Connacht lead 23-10 at the interval. After the restart Connacht failed to add to their tally as the home side began to dominate, but Mossy Lawler will have seen plenty of bright displays from his troops.
The return to fitness of Niyi Adeolokun for the first half was a huge boost for Connacht, while Dawai's try-scoring display was his first outing of the season. According to forwards coach Jimmy Duffy, the coaches were impressed with what they saw.
"It was a strong Eagles team, but in that competition you get to see how those academy players front up against professional opposition," said Duffy.
"Dominic (Robertson McCoy) did well at tighthead again, Harley Fox was good at No 8, Matt Byrne did well at full-back. It's a good opportunity for some boys to stake a claim.
"For us as a coaching group, it gives you a real litmus test of where they are at, so certainly there was a few performances that were very promising last weekend."