Andy has a sense of Per­pose

Con­nacht v Per­pig­nan Pool Three, Sports­ground, 3pm

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - LEINSTER CLUB SFC FINAL - BY JOHN FAL­LON

CON­NACHT have ground to make up if they are to earn a quar­ter-fi­nal but the main fo­cus for Andy Friend’s men is get­ting back among Europe’s elite next sea­son.

To that end they need to back up their three wins in a row in the PRO14 with a good re­turn from the three fes­tive der­bies if they are to con­tinue the push to reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons Cup next sea­son.

They could – and should – go into the first of those at Le­in­ster on De­cem­ber 22 on the back of five wins in a row.

Per­pig­nan, fac­ing al­most cer­tain rel­e­ga­tion af­ter 11 losses in a row in the Top

14, ar­rive in Gal­way for to­day’s clash in shock af­ter for­mer player Barend Britz was killed in an at­tack out­side his pub on Thurs­day night. As ex­pected, they have only brought about half their first team but Friend – boosted by the avail­abil­ity of Bundee Aki and two other Ir­ish aces in Quinn Roux and Fin­lay Beal­ham – is leav­ing noth­ing to chance.

“They’re a Top 14 team who may not be hav­ing much suc­cess but with ev­ery week that goes by when they don’t have that win, they will be try­ing even harder to get it,” he warned.

“We’ve re­spected all the op­po­si­tion we play. We know what their po­ten­tial strengths are but we don’t spend a lot of time think­ing about them, we flag a few themes but it’s more about what we pro­duce.”

RE­SPECT Andy Friend is wary of French strug­glers

RE­TURN Quinn Roux is back in the se­cond row

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