Connacht 55 Brive 10: Connacht coach Kieran Keane is relishing facing into three consecutive inter-pro derbies with a squad high on confidence after their latest European masterclass.

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Kieran Keane: A performance like that warms your heart

Connacht 55 Brive 10: Connacht coach Kieran Keane is relishing facing into three consecutive inter-pro derbies with a squad high on confidence after their latest European masterclass.

Kieran Keane: A performance like that warms your heart

Domestic rugby has only produced fleeting glory for Connacht this season, but they now turn focus toward Ulster at the Sportsground on St Stephen’s Day on the back of consecutive bonus point wins in the Challenge Cup.

Matt Healy stole the headlines with four tries for the western province while Jack Carty was immaculate from the tee and with ball in hand. As well as a 100% return from his nine kicks from the tee, Carty scored a try in the first-half and also laid on crossfield kicks for two other tries.

That first derby of the Christmas period could well be a classic if both teams carry their recent form into the game. Between them they accumulated 107 points at home in Europe this weekend, and although Connacht defended stoutly against Brive, Les Kiss’s side are a different level of test.

But Keane is searching for a similar reaction to the one he saw off the back of two European wins. Munster were conquered last time and he is happy to have all the ingredients for another derby win.

“I think everything went our way but we made our own luck which was pleasing to see. That Brive side are a very big physical outfit and Ulster are no different. Let’s see how it rolls,” said Keane.

“We’ll prepare in the same manner as we’ve always done. I think the fact that it’s an inter-pro, it’ll bring its own special atmosphere. “We’re at home. I think people will come and that’ll make it great and the boys will really respond.

“We haven’t been really bad in my opinion as it’s been reported. We haven’t been trashed and we haven’t been put to the sword.

“This is just part of the stepping stones. We’ve got three inter-pros to go over the Christmas spell and this will give us a lot of confidence going into those.”

Truth be told, Brive were well short of the required standard, with poor handling and a leaky defence spoiling their chances, but Keane cared little for the personal plaudits.

“I’m not really interested in that. So long as the boys are getting better, feeling better about themselves, growing their game, getting competitive, those are the things that I want to achieve. I don’t need credit because when you see a performance like that warms your heart so I’m happy to have a warm heart. Everybody had a good day. The pack played well. The backs had their moments. There was some delightful ambition being shown. It just shows they’re starting to enjoy themselves and we’re reaping the rewards from that.

“They’re feeling good about themselves. I know we’re not world beaters in some people’s eyes but it’s nice to see the boys express themselves and enjoy what they’re doing.”

Scorers for Connacht:

M Healy (4), J Carty, C Marmion, T Farrell tries; J Carty 7 cons, 2 pens.

Scorers for Brive:

G Germain try, con, pen.

CONNACHT:

D Leader, C Kelleher, P Ahki, B Aki (T Farrell, 60), M Healy, J Carty, J Mitchell (K Marmion, 58); D Buckley (P McCabe, 36), S Delahunt (T McCartney, 46), F Bealham (C Carey, 46); U Dillane (J Cannon, 65), Q Roux; C Gallagher, J Connolly, E Masterson (c).

BRIVE:

G Germain (T Laranjeira, 60); N Megdoud, A Mignardi (c), B Petre, F Romanet (G Namy, 51); M Ugalde, F Cazenave (D Delarue, 68); V Devisme (K Asieshvili, 49), M Tadjer, D Bamba (J Johnston, 49); J Snyman (J Le Devedec, 68), J Uys; P Narisia (S Koyamaibole, h-t), D Waqaniborutu (L Martin, 53), E Herjean.

Referee:

Ian Tempest (England).

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