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Connacht can secure Champions Cup rugby for next season with a win over Cardiff in Galway this weekend.

The westerners struggled to a 6-5 win away to Zebre last time out with some the decisions from the rookie referee drawing the ire of Connacht coach Andy Friend.

However, the win was left Connacht in pole position to claim a quarter-final berth in the Guinness PRO14 play-offs - which also seals a place in European rugby's top competition next season.

Speaking on Monday Night Rugby, Rúaidhrí O'Connor was quick to point to the progress that's been made at the Sportsground this season, telling Joe: "When Andy Friend calms down, I think he'll look back at that as overcoming adversity - fighting the elements, fighting the ref. Zebre is not necessarily the most difficult place to go but they've found the going tough there.

"Especially with Cardiff losing and Munster doing them a favour by denying them a bonus point. Cardiff scored three tries, had chances to get a fourth and Munster's defended really well.

"So, all roads lead to Galway this weekend. It's the biggest game of the weekend and really, for year one of Andy Friend's tenure, and even in Pat Lam's final year - things were down down there, the Kieran Keane era was a real nadir  - it would be amazing for them to get back up and running.

"There starting 15 plus their subs when they're at their strongest are absolutely capable of getting a result.

"You saw when they went over and rested a couple in Sale - they don't probably have the depth to compete on two fronts just yet but that's a gritty one [against Zebre] - one they wouldn't have won last year. They can mark it down and put it to bed and focus on this week's performance.

"If they win this weekend, they're through. They put the distance between themselves and Cardiff. The Ospreys have fallen away - they [would] have enough and then they go to Munster.

"They're not in Europe anymore so have the weekend off. They go to Munster on the final day of the season. They probably can't catch Munster so they can put can rest up there and put everything into a quarter-final."

Connacht host Cardiff this Saturday at 3pm.

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