Belfast Telegraph

Upbeat Friend enjoying his squad selection headache


The script for Connacht's next run in the Guinness Pro 14 is already set out. Edinburgh will have more than a hint of desperation about them, having lost both opening rounds in games they felt they should have won. And now here come Connacht.

With a couple of experienced heads to add to the mix - including Bundee Aki and new man Robin Copeland - Connacht coach Andy Friend reckons his lot have the sort of depth to their squad that will allow them compete.

Waking up yesterday on what he calls 'bonus point Sunday', the coach surveys an appealing scene.

"We need depth, we need people pushing through," he said of the cast waiting in the wings. "Tom McCartney captained our Eagles side yesterday (Friday). He is back on the paddock too. It's a good headache for us. That's what you want as a coach - you want headaches."

Paul Boyle's first half brace of tries put Connacht on course for a 32-13 bonus point win over Zebre at a rain-hit Sportsground.

The 21-year-old back-rower scored twice on only his second Guinness PRO14 start for the Irish province, who led 17-3 at half-time with Jack Carty kicking seven points and his opposite number Carlo Canna landing a penalty.

A first competitive victory for Connacht's new head coach Andy Friend was sealed by further tries from Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin and Niyi Adeolokun, before Giulio Bisegni, adding to a second Canna penalty, claimed a late seven-pointer for well-beaten Zebre.

On Friday, Glasgow backed up their opening-day win by coasting past Munster 25-10 at Scotstoun in the Guinness PRO14.

The Warriors raced to a 22-0 lead at half-time, but they were frustrated by their Irish rivals after the break and unable to pick up the bonus point try.

Callum Gibbins, Stuart Hogg and Adam Ashe all crossed the line, with Hogg converting two and kicking a penalty to finish the game with 12 points, while Peter Horne was also on target.

Belfast Telegraph


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