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05th Oct 2021

“My new second-favourite team” – High praise for Connacht’s gunslingers

Patrick McCarry


“I most definitely have a new favourite second team.”

Connacht will have been kicking themselves after their opening day defeat of the United Rugby Championship season to Cardiff Blues. They bounced back in complete style, though, by shredding the Bulls on Friday night.

Having essentially been described as ‘Leinster B’ by Bulls coach Jake White, before the game, the Westerners will have revelled in the manner of their victory. Having conceded an early try, Connacht rallied to run in five tries – all by backs – and win 34-7.

On the latest episode of House of Rugby URC [LISTEN from 25:45 below], former Ulster and Ireland centre Darren Cave told hosts Jason Hennessy and Megan Williams why Connacht will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season.

After the disruption caused by Pat Lam’s departure, in 2017, and the ill-fated reign of Kieran Keane, Australian coach Andy Friend has put his own stamp on the team while keeping that attacking intent that served them so well on their way to the 2016 league title.

“Connacht were absolutely unbelievable,” says Cave of that 34-7 win over Bulls.

“How good is it to see five tries from outside backs? I don’t know if you really love a scrum or a maul, here, but it’s good to see the backs scoring tries. A couple in the centre, too. Tom Daly with two and Tom Farrell scored an absolute worldie off a scrum.

“I love the way they play. There was a bit of huff and puff up front, but some lovely rugby too.”

For Connacht’s opening try, their packed huffed and puffed the Bulls to the brink before Kieran Marmion found Daly. He linked up with Farrell and Jack Carty swooped in to tee up Tiernan O’Halloran for as TEAM a team try as you would have found all last weekend.

One of the only Connacht players not to get his hands on the ball for that O’Halloran try was their new Aussie winger, Mack Hansen.

The 230year-old, who is Irish qualified, made up for it in the second half with an early contender for Try of the Season.

“Mack Hansen, that is an absolute screamer,” Cave comments. “That has got to be… even the take is like unbelievable, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone can catch a high ball in Galway. Never mind the 60-metre run afterwards!”

Hennessy believes that, in Hansen, Connacht could have a real gem on their hands. If Andy Farrell is watching closely, he could be worth bringing into his wider November internationals squad for a closer look.

“And Ireland are short of wingers,” Cave remarks, “they only have about 15 of them! I’m sure he’ll slip right into the starting 15.

“But, no, I’m a Weshtie now. I love watching Connacht. They’re class.”

Any rugby supporters keen on hopping aboard that bandwagon, Connacht are next in action against Dragons at The Sportsground on Saturday [5:15pm kick-off].


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