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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
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'We'd love to get one over them': Connacht can't wait to welcome old foes Gloucester to Galway

The western province had to tackle Gloucester in Kingsholm twice at the end of the 2014/15 season. Can they change their fortunes at the Sportsground?

Matt Healy scores during the Champions Cup play-off match in Kingsholm.
Matt Healy scores during the Champions Cup play-off match in Kingsholm.
Image: Kevin Barnes/INPHO

CONNACHT HOOKER DAVE Heffernan can’t way for the Sportsground to rock when they play Gloucester in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup in two months.

The Ballina native said it will be a cracking occasion as Kieran Keane’s men bid to take another step towards a first ever European final.

Heffernan says that a packed Sportsground will be a huge advantage as they try to topple David Humphreys’ men, with a semi-final away to Newcastle Falcons or Brive awaiting the victors.

“The last time here when we had Glasgow for the knockout stages of the Pro12 was unbelievable, the fans that day were something else so it will be special to have a crowd here for a big European game.

“We have had a couple of runs against Gloucester in the past. We would love to get one over them, it would be brilliant. There are different squads there to that which played in the past, so it is not something we can think about,” said Heffernan.

Connacht faced Gloucester in knock-out ties twice over seven weeks in 2015. Both the Challenge Cup quarter-final and the thrilling Champions Cup play-off were played at Kingsholm and resulted in a home win, however.

 

This time around, Connacht will have home advantage thanks to a first-half hat-trick from Niyi Adeolokun and scores from Bundee Aki, Tiernan O’Halloran, Matt Healy, Tom Farrell and a penalty try sealed a bonus point win over Oyonnax on Saturday.

Charlie Sharples and Kieran Marmion Kieran Marmion contestes with Charlie Sharples during the Challenge Cup quarter-final in 2015. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Coach Kieran Keane said securing home advantage is the ideal boost.

“We will be tough to beat here. We are looking forward to it. The season goes on. It is nice to undefeated in this competition and we look forward to it,” said Keane.

His men, slow starters in a lot of games this season, quickly put the French strugglers to the sword, with the bonus point in the bag by the end of the opening quarter.

“We broke their back in the first-half and got a bit untidy in the second. The game was won in the first-half,” added Keane.

“It was a perfect start. We definitely put a lot of importance on trying to get our starts better and right. On this occasion it was good. It was a brilliant start,” added Keane.

Injury means All Black Stephen Donald will not be joining Ulster

Munster well worth the wait as they book record quarter-final date in style

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John Fallon

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