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Connacht Rugby will be aiming to end their four-game losing run in the Heineken Champions Cup when they play host to Stade Français Paris for the first time on Sunday.
It is the Irish side’s worst run in the competition since losing their first five matches in 2011/12.
The Pool B match kicks off at 13:00 and is available to watch on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS.
Other key facts:
- Connacht have been going through a slight dip in form at the Sportsground – losing their last two European matches there, despite winning 14 out of their last 17 overall.
- Stade Français are playing in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time since 2015/16.
- The last time they travelled to an Irish side in Europe, they lost 26-13 to Munster Rugby in January 2016.
- Connacht averaged the most metres gained (575) and most defenders beaten (34) of any side in the EPCR Challenge Cup last season, although their tackle success rate of 77% was the lowest in the competition.
We open our @ChampionsCup campaign on Sunday and it's a big one as we welcome Stade Francais to the Sportsground.
Read the thoughts of head coach Andy Friend, as well as Jack Aungier and Oisin Dowling in our preview of the clash with the Frenchmen. #CONvSTF #ChampionsCup
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) December 8, 2021
Andy Friend (Connacht head coach): “[We are] two very different sides [They have] a big pack and love their kicking game, so we’ll see what the wind is doing that day. If it’s in their face, they may not be able to, but if it’s at their back, I’m sure they’re going to, which means it will be in our face and we’ll have to come in with our special little attacking shapes and see whether we can break the big men down. So, it’s going to be a great challenge.”
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Connacht Rugby captain Jack Carty produced a hat-trick of assists and kicked six points as Andy Friend’s side beat Stade Français Paris 36-9 in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday afternoon.
The 29-year-old released Caolin Blade, John Porch and Eoghan Masterson for tries at a windy Sportsground with the hosts recording a bonus point win in their opening Pool B game.
Stade Français fly-half Nicolas Sanchez scored three penalties for the visitors – who failed to record a single try in their first game back in the Heineken Champions Cup since the 2015/16 season.
Diarmuid Kilgallen, Eoghan Masterson and then Cian Prendergast all crossed late on for the Irish province as Connacht ended their four-game losing run in the Heineken Champions Cup.
That is superb from @ConnachtRugby! 🤩
Jack Carty puts it on a plate for John Porch with a beautiful lobbed pass 👌#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/0Izzzlal3I
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 12, 2021
Connacht scrum-half Blade opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes, forcing his way through the Stade Français defence following good play from centres Sammy Arnold and Shayne Bolton.
Stade Français’ Sanchez quickly replied for the visitors with two penalties – the second of which was a terrific effort from the halfway line.
In response, Andy Friend’s side then began to assault the Stade Français 22, with Finlay Bealhorn and Blade both threatening to dot down for the hosts.
Connacht would eventually break through the Stade Français defensive line again, when fly-half Carty’s fantastic pass found an unmarked Porch to slide over for his side’s second try of the afternoon.
Carty then produced another sublime looping pass for Wootton to score and converted the wing’s try to give Connacht a 19-6 lead at half-time.
Gonzalo Quesada’s men started the second half well as they ventured into the Connacht 22 and reduced the deficit through another Sanchez penalty for the TOP 14 side.
No mercy from @connachtrugby as they hit @SFParisRugby for six 🏏
Sum up that display?#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/b5rfXT63RH
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 12, 2021
Despite piling on the pressure, Stade Français failed to get through the Connacht line and conceded another try in the 67th minute when Carty set up replacement Masterson for their side’s bonus point try.
Fellow replacement Diarmuid Kilgallen then crossed for the hosts, with flanker Cian Prendergast going over in the final seconds during a dominant performance from Connacht.
Connacht travel to Leicester Tigers next Sunday whereas Stade Francais host Bristol Bears at the Stade Jean Bouin.
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