herald

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Connacht bask in Bloemfontein sun

STYLE: Kieran Kane. Pic: Sportsfile
STYLE: Kieran Kane. Pic: Sportsfile

What's gone around has come back around as Connacht bask in the South African sunshine ahead of their PRO14 League match at Toyota Cheetahs this evening (KO 5.35, Sky Sports Action).

The whole of the country winced when Connacht were sent to Siberia, Krasnoyarsk to be more specific, in November of 2015 for a Challenge Cup clash against Russian club Ensei.

"They were the most extreme conditions I've ever known," said manager Tim Allnutt, in Front Up, Rise Up, the Official Story of Connacht Rugby.

"When trying to write the subs cards, the pens froze. The water bottles froze.

The courage to play was one thing; the courage to go back out after half-time another.

"I think there's a video of Niyi (Adeolokun) in the changing room," he said.

"He couldn't hold his hot drink. It was spilling all over him. In the second half, I think it went as low as minus 23 or minus 24."

Fast forward more than two years, the whole of Ireland is bothered by a blizzard and covered in a thick blanket of snow.

Connacht have been coping with 30-degree heat in Bloemfontein as they prepare to try and hand the Cheetahs just their second home defeat this season.

"I think everyone is familiar with their style of play. They play some really exciting and attacking rugby," said their coach Kieran Keane.

"They played like that when they came to the Sportsground and they were hard to beat.

"They are even harder to beat when they are playing at home and only one team has managed it since they joined the PRO14."

Cheetahs: C Blommetjies; C Barry, F Venter (capt), N Lee, L Obi; N Marais, Z Mkhabela; O Nche, T van Jaarsveld, J coetzee, J Basson, R Hugo, P Schoeman, H Venter, U Cassiem.

Connacht: T O'Halloran; C Kelleher, E Griffin, P Ahki, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham, U Dillane, J Cannon, S O'Brien, J Butler, J Muldoon (capt).

Verdict: Cheetahs

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