Belfast Telegraph

Van Graan is hoping for a home play-off

Big aim: Johann van Graan wants to turn up the pressure on Glasgow
Big aim: Johann van Graan wants to turn up the pressure on Glasgow

By Ruaihdri O'Connor

In the aftermath of last season's Guinness PRO14 semi-final defeat to Leinster, Johann van Graan said the key lesson he'd take was the importance of securing a home semi-final.

Not only would it earn his team a three-week lead-in to the last-four clash, it would keep Leinster on the opposite side of the draw. Tonight, they'll find out if they've done enough.

Glasgow Warriors kick off their home game against Edinburgh at the same time as this clash with Connacht with a three-point cushion over Munster. Connacht are comfortably ensconced in third and know they face a trip up to Belfast next Saturday.

Thus, Andy Friend has rotated his squad and with Munster retaining 11 of their starting XV from last week's European semi-final exit to Saracens, the home side will be confident of doing enough to be ready for any slip-up in Scotstoun.

Edinburgh need to win to have a hope of overhauling Benetton in Conference B, so there is a shot at a favourable result.

"We're in week 43 and we've had some disappointing weeks and some brilliant weeks," said Van Graan. "It's an important game because we still have a shot at a home semi-final and that's a big carrot for us.

"We've got to make sure that we beat Connacht. They've done really well, they could have beaten Leinster away and have beaten Ulster away and they'll come in the belief they can beat us.

"We don't have control over the Edinburgh and Glasgow game but if Edinburgh beat Glasgow and we beat Connacht, we'll have a home semi-final."

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