Friday 17 August 2018

Race for seedings heating up nicely

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Stock image

Declan Rooney

The two points dropped at Sixways last weekend could come back to haunt Connacht in their quest to win just a second piece of silverware in their history, as they are now relying on other teams to do them favours in the fight for seedings.

While it is not guaranteed that the two top-ranked teams in the Challenge Cup will claim home advantage in their respective semi-finals should they get that far, they are certain of a home quarter-final and are likely to host a semi-final.

As well as awarding top seeds, EPCR competitions give weight to teams who win away quarter-finals.

For example, if the top-ranked team and the fifth-ranked team win their quarter-finals they will meet in the semi-final, but the fifth-ranked team would earn home advantage after their away win.

Connacht, with 21 pool points, currently hold the fourth best ranking of the pool leaders, but they are expected to climb that ladder this weekend as Kieran Keane's side are the only pool leader with a home game remaining.

Pau and Edinburgh have 24 points after five games but Pau travel to Kingsholm to face Gloucester, who can also still win their pool, while Edinburgh travel to face Stade Francais, who are in the running for a best runner-up position.

Premiership side Newcastle Falcons have amassed 23 points so far but face a very difficult away date against Enisei STM - although the game takes place at the Avchala Stadium in Tblisi, Georgia, rather than in Krasnyarsk, where Connacht once played.

If the seedings remain as they are, Connacht will take on the fifth pool winners Cardiff Blues, while they would certainly face an away semi-final by being the fourth seeds if they beat the Welsh outfit.

Irish Independent

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