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Gloucester Rugby will be looking to remain unbeaten against Connacht Rugby when they travel to Galway for their European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final on Saturday at The Sportsground, live on BT Sport.
This will be the second meeting between the clubs in the Challenge Cup and their fourth overall in Europe. Gloucester have won all three previous matches.
The three fixtures between the clubs in Europe have seen an average aggregate points total of 29 points per game.
This is the third time Connacht have reached the quarter-finals in their last three attempts, losing to eventual winners Gloucester in 2015 and Grenoble in 2016.
#TBT: Last October we enjoyed a 15-8 win over Worcester on our way to Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final with Gloucester. Make sure you don’t miss this one!
BOOK ?? https://t.co/AppJS60tOW pic.twitter.com/nS9yqne9Xz
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) March 29, 2018
Two-time champions, Gloucester, have progressed from the pool stage in their last five Challenge Cup participations, losing in the quarter-finals (twice) and reaching the final (twice).
Connacht, ranked No 3 after the pool stage, have won nine of their last 10 home games in the Challenge Cup (L1), only losing to Exeter Chiefs in that time.
Connacht Rugby line-up
15. Tiernan O’Halloran; 14. Niyi Adeolokun, 13. Bundee Aki, 12. Tom Farrell, 11. Matt Healy; 10. Jack Carty, 9. Kieran Marmion; 1. Denis Buckley, 2. Tom McCartney, 3. Finlay Bealham, 4. Gavin Thornbury, 5. Quinn Roux, 6. Eoin McKeon, 7. Jarrad Butler, 8. John Muldoon
16. David Heffernan, 17. Peter McCabe, 18. Conor Carey, 19. Ultan Dillane, 20. Eoghan Masterson, 21. Caolin Blade, 22. Craig Ronaldson, 23. Darragh Leader
Gloucester Rugby line-up
15. Jason Woodward; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Tom Marshall; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Willi Heinz; 1. Val Rapava Ruskin , 2. James Hanson, 3. John Afoa, 4. Ed Slater, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 6. Ross Moriarty, 7. Lewis Ludlow, 8. Ben Morgan
16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Fraser Balmain, 19. Tom Savage, 20. Ruan Ackermann, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Billy Burns, 23. Billy Twelvetrees
Match Centre - Preview - Lineups
Last season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup runners-up Gloucester Rugby have booked their place in the final four after a bruising 33-28 triumph over Connacht Rugby on a blustery Saturday afternoon at the Sportsground.
- Tries from James Hanson, Tom Marshall, Henry Trinder and John Afoa led Johan Ackermann’s side into the semi-final stages, where they will host Newcastle Falcons at Kingholm Stadium in April.
- In an open and expansive opening exchange, Gloucester hooker Hanson seized on a loose line-out ball to storm home for the opening try of the match, only for Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion to snipe through the Cherry and Whites defence four minutes later to level the scores.
- Visitors Gloucester were soon reduced to 14 men as No. 8 Ben Morgan was shown a yellow card and Connacht put their personnel advantage to work as centre Bundee Aki, fresh from an excellent Six Nations campaign with champions Ireland, offered a display of pace and power to force his way over the line as the hosts took a 10-5 lead.
- With numbers even once again, Gloucester soon levelled up the scoreboard as a looping pass landed in the path of winger Marshall, who slid home in the left corner, but it was a moment of individual brilliance from Trinder, evading five defenders on his way over the whitewash, which gave the tourists a 17-10 lead at the interval.
- Gloucester restarted in the same vain, pressuring the Connacht defence, which led to Owen Williams adding a three-pointer from the kicking tee, but the hosts soon wrestled the momentum as winger Niyi Adeolokun successfully landed on Marmion’s excellently weighted grubber to chalk up a third home try.
- With Connacht fighting back, Gloucester’s defence would this time be tested and Jack Carty trimmed the deficit to just two points when he added a penalty kick with half an hour to play.
- Ackermann’s Gloucester, though, regained control as Williams slotted a second penalty before barnstorming prop Afoa, celebrating his 100th appearance for the club, broke free to charge home a fourth try and push the advantage to 12 points, but still, Connacht would not relent.
- Gloucester were again reduced to 14 men as Lewis Ludlow was yellow carded and with 10 minutes to play winger Matt Healy extended his Challenge Cup return to 16 tries in 16 appearances to bring the hosts within two once again, but Connacht could not muster enough to prevent the two-times Challenge Cup winners from securing their place in the final four.