Connacht hoping for second win to mark victorious South African sojourn

Sean O'Brien of Connacht is tackled by James Venter of Hollywoodbets Sharks during the United Rugby Championship match  in Durban last weekend.
Photo by Shaun Roy/Sportsfile

Sean O'Brien of Connacht is tackled by James Venter of Hollywoodbets Sharks during the United Rugby Championship match in Durban last weekend. Photo by Shaun Roy/Sportsfile

Connacht will be seeking to make it two out of two from their South African sojourn this weekend when they take on the Bulls, buoyant from defeating the Sharks 13-12 last Saturday.

However, they may have to do it without international prop Finlay Bealham after he picked up a knock in victory in Durban. But he has not been ruled out yet, despite having to wear a protective boot all this week.

Connacht defence coach Scott Fardy is hopeful that Bealham will be fine and that he was put in a protective boot as a precaution as they prepare to take on Jake White’s side at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

“As far as I know it’s just a precaution,” said the former Australian international. “They put them in a boot pretty quickly these days, just to deal with ankles, feet and other things, especially when you are as big as Finlay is! I would wear two boots myself if I could to look after my ankles. But I think at this stage it’s just precautionary with Finlay," he told media this week.

The squad are in fine fettle having hit four wins from five this season in the URC which see them just two points off leaders Leinster, and it would be a huge fillip to their chances if they were to emerge with two wins from the long trip to South Africa.

The Bulls, who Marcell Coetzee sent off in their second defeat of the season at the weekend. The men from Pretoria were beaten by Edinburgh at the Hive Stadium, 31-23. .

Connacht have been readying themselves for the game at their camp at Umhlanga, just north of Durban.

Winger Andrew Smith and centre Cathal Forde came off with injuries in the win over the Sharks and are being monitored at this stage as Connacht bid to continue their excellent start to the URC season.

Fardy said the win over the Sharks, Connacht’s first in ten games in South Africa, has given them a huge boost on tour as they now face into a clash with a Bulls side who have returned from a four-match European tour where they beat Cardiff and Zebre and lost to Ulster and Edinburgh.

“I think it is a massive win. It’s a very difficult place to come and play after a long week of travel. Lots of distractions and things and I thought the boys applied themselves really well at the start of the week.

“I don’t think we played our best rugby and we didn’t execute the things we wanted to. We defended bravely, but not well. But we came away with a victory on the back of some big moments from a number of players and guys really stuck their hands up. Really happy with that," he said.

Kick-off is 3pm (Irish time ) on Saturday and the game is live on RTE.

 

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