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Tomorrow night at 8pm Connacht will play the decisive match of their HEC 2012/13 cmapaign.


connacht badge2CONNACHT
Starting XV: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O’Halloran, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion,
1 Brett Wilkinson, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 3 Ronan Loughney, 4 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 6 Andrew Browne, 7 Willie Faloon, 8 Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: 16. Ethienne Reynecke, 17. Denis Buckley, 18. JP Cooney, 19. Danny Qualter, 20. Johnny O'Connor, 21. Paul O'Donohoe, 22. Miah Nikora, 23. Matthew Jarvis

Biarritz OlympiqueBIARRITZ
Starting XV: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Charles Gimenez, 12 Marcelo Bosch, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Dimitri Yachvili,
1 Fabien Barcella, 2 Benoit August, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4 Erik Lund, 5 Thibault Dubarry, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 7 Benoit Guyot, 8 Raphael Lakafia
Replacements: 16. Jean-Philippe Genevois, 17. Thomas Synaeghel, 18. Lodewicus Blaauw, 19. Pelu Taele, 20. Imanol Harinordoquy, 21. Yann Lesgourgues, 22. Jean-Pascal Barraque, 23. Seremaïa Burotu

Venue: The Sportsground, Galway City
Date: Friday, 07st December 2012
Kick-off: 20:00
TV Broadcasts: Sky Red Button. Matchday Live on Rabo Site.
Referee: Greg Garner (RFU)
MATCH DISCUSSION THREAD ON THE FORUM


Tomorrow night a Connacht side missing many of its leaders will face one of the French rugby giants, Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque, a team who have won the French Championship five times and reached the final of the European Rugby Champioship twice. Just in time for this match they welcome back their talismanic Number 8 Imanol Harinordoquy (to the bench though), their top class scrum half Dimitri Yachvili, and the, soon to be more well known, inside center Marcelo Bosch. In contrast with our French rivals Connacht have been ravaged by injuries to our most experienced men, Swift, Muldoon and Duffy, but must consider ourselves lucky to welcome back the recently Irish-capped 2nd row forward, Mike McCarthy.

The French teams have, like the English, developed a heavy forward-based game in their domestic league, as the pressures force them to win at all costs. Biarritz are no exception to this rule, and with Connacht relying on academy players to fill the bench this will be the area that they will target tomorrow. Biarritz will look to engage us up front until they are in strike range before Yachvili begins to move the ball to force penalties from the under-pressure defense. With our most experienced players missing the defensive organisation will be of utmost importance, and lapses will be punished by Biarritz's back three of Balshaw, Brew and Ngwenya.

Connacht will have to rely on mobility in this match, keeping the ball in hand and forcing the French forwards to keep moving, kicking only when the opposition are deep in our territory, and making sure that the chase is good. The backline will need a much more disciplined defense over what we saw last week against Edinburgh, as missed tackles are not a luxury we can afford here. There will be no dropped balls going over the line tomorrow.

The old adage of "Forwards win matches, backs decide by how much" springs to mind. It is often true. In that case let's hope our new boys in the pack have a stormer.

Come on Connacht !

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