European Challenge Cup: Gloucester will need to be at best to reach semis

Cherry and Whites director of rugby expecting huge test against Connacht in quarter-final clash at Kingsholm

David Humphreys believes Gloucester will have to be at their best to reach the European Challenge Cup semi-final.

The Cherry and Whites director of rugby knows Connacht, their quarter-final opponents, well from his time with Ulster.

Under Pat Lam, Connacht have developed hugely over the past couple of seasons and we will need to be at our very best in order to progress to the semi finals.

David Humphreys

Gloucester breezed through Pool 5, picking up 29 points from a possible 30, while Irish province Connacht eventually scraped through from Pool 2 as the third best runner-up after coming from 20-11 down in La Rochelle on Saturday to win 30-20.

“It’s obviously good to know who will be facing in the quarter-finals,” Humphreys said.

“We knew that we’d be facing tough opposition and Connacht will certainly provide that, having come through a very strong pool.

“I’ve faced Connacht many times during the course of my career, both as a player and as director of rugby, and I know that there is never an easy fixture against them.

“Under Pat Lam, Connacht have developed hugely over the past couple of seasons and we will need to be at our very best in order to progress to the semi finals.

“While there are a number of important Aviva Premiership games to be played over the next few weeks, I’m already very much looking forward to it.

“We’ve had some superb occasions here at Kingsholm so far this season and a European quarter-final against Connacht will be yet another one.”

Connacht captain John Muldoon is looking forward to the chance to return to Kingsholm after the English club did the double over his side when the two clubs clashed in the December double-header of the 2011/12 Heineken Cup campaign.

Gloucester twice finished with narrows wins over Connacht with England wing Jonny May stealing a 23-19 win at Kingsholm with a converted try five minutes from time in the second match.

The other matches, which take place on the first weekend of April, feature an all-Premiership clash as Newcastle Falcons travel to Sandy Park to take on Exeter Chiefs, an all-PRO12 clash as Newport Gwent Dragons host Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues and the fourth match sees London Irish host Edinburgh.

Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals Qualifiers:

1 Gloucester Rugby (winner Pool 5)
2 Exeter Chiefs (winner Pool 2)
3 Newport Gwent Dragons (winner Pool 3)
4 London Irish (winner Pool 1)
5 Edinburgh Rugby (winner Pool 4)
6 Cardiff Blues (best pool runner-up)
7 Newcastle Falcons (second best pool runner-up)
8 Connacht Rugby (third best pool runner-up)

The quarter-finals matches to be played on the weekend of 2/3/4/5 April:

(1) Gloucester Rugby v Connacht Rugby (8)
(2) Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons (7)
(3) Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues (6)
(4) London Irish v Edinburgh Rugby (5)

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