Head coach Andy Friend insists that Connacht can finish their season on a positive note, despite last weekend’s narrow defeat to Munster meaning the Westerners cannot win domestic silverware this term. 

After the 20-17 reversal at Thomond Park, Connacht now sit 12 points behind their Southern rivals in Conference B in the PRO14, which — with two games remaining — is an unassailable lead. 

However, with the Westerners drawn away to Leicester Tigers in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup and the remaining PRO14 fixtures providing the opportunity to nail down second place, Friend believes that the Sportsground team can still have a successful season, starting with Edinburgh at home on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, prop Denis Buckley says that Edinburgh will provide a stern test for the Connacht pack and they will have to be at their physical best to defeat the Scotsmen. 

The Roscommon native also highlighted the set-piece as an area where the Scots — who are coached by former England international hooker Richard Cockerill — are particularly strong and the Westerners, he says, will have to come out on top of that battle in order to win.

Reacting to Connacht’s Challenge Cup draw away to Leicester Tigers, Buckley acknowledged the size of the challenge in facing the Tigers, one of European Rugby’s most storied clubs. 

However, the loose-head believes that the Westerners can win the competition, especially with their strong away form this season. Should the Sportsground men progress they will face either Newcastle Falcons or Ospreys at home in the quarter-final.

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