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Ofisa doubtful for Toulon semi

Guinness PRO12 Editor

25 Apr 2010

Connacht are set to be without Ray Ofisa for their mammoth Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Toulon on Friday night.

The Samoan flanker was replaced in the 50th minute in the 58-10 hiding against Magners League basement rivals the Scarlets after suffering a recurrence of vertigo. And Connacht head coach Michael Bradley confirmed he expects to be without his back-rower for the last four tie in Galway.

“Ray is now a big doubt for next week. He had some vertigo and we thought we would risk him today, but he doesn’t seem to be okay at all,” admitted Bradley.

Having been forced to play three games in eight days in the Magners League it was always likely that Bradley would protect his front line team against the Scarlets and his starting line-up included only one of the side that beat Bourgoin in the quarter-finals.

Even so, Bradley admitted his team will need to improve in defence if they are to keep Jonny Wilkinson’s Toulon side at bay on Friday night as they bid to keep alive their dream of finally qualifying for the Heineken Cup by winning the Amlin title.

“We needed to be stronger in defence against the Scarlets. The first three tries were soft and came through the middle,” said Bradley after seeing the home side run in nine tries in their record Magners League victory.

“We were very disappointed with that because defence was one of the key objectives for us at the start of the game. We were left to chase the game against a Scarlets side who are in good form and it was always going to be difficult.

“We are obviously disappointed with the result and the scoreline, but we have to recognise we didn’t have our strongest side over here. We have had tough games against Munster and Leinster in recent weeks and it was always going to take its toll.

“But we are over this period now and can now fully focus on Toulon. The tickets are nearly sold-out for the Sportsground on Friday night and it’s fantastic that we have such a high-profile side coming to Galway and it will be a big day for us.”

Toulon confirmed their status as one of the best sides in the Top 14 by finishing second to reigning champions Perpignan and claiming one of the home semi-final spots in the Play-Offs at the weekend with a 26-23 win at Brive.