Irish international returns to Connacht starting 15

17 November 2023

Irish international returns to Connacht starting 15

Irish international prop Finlay Bealham returns as Connacht make eight changes to last week's side as they take on the Hollywoodbet Sharks this Saturday in Durban (k/o 3pm Irish time).

There are two changes in the front row including Bealham who is set to play for the first time with the province since his return from the World Cup with Ireland.

Oisin Dowling and Joe Joyce are named in the second row, while the back row is the only unchanged line from last week's game away to Edinburgh with Cian Prendergast, captain Conor Oliver and Sean O'Brien all set to start again.

It's a new half-back pairing starting with Colm Reilly and JJ Hanrahan. For the fourth game this season Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are paired up in the centre. Byron Ralston moves to the wing from centre where he's joined by Andrew Smith and Tiernan O'Halloran in the back three.

Commenting ahead of the game, head coach Pete Wilkins says:

“Any game away in South Africa is a massive challenge, and we will be coming up against a highly motivated Sharks team who will relish playing in front of their home crowd for the first time this season. That said, we have travelled and prepared really well for this encounter, and the whole squad is excited by the opportunity in front of us on Saturday.

The return of Finlay Bealham is timely, and he has brought great energy as well as international quality to the group. Elsewhere our team selection represents a blend of those that have delivered significant performances for us across the first four games of the URC season. The quality of our bench will be a crucial element in what we expect to be a physical and fast-paced game in hot conditions.”

15:00 Irish time, Saturday 18th November 2023 @ Hollywoodbets Kings Park

15. Tiernan O’Halloran (224)
14. Byron Ralston (19)
13. Tom Farrell (102)
12. Cathal Forde (16)
11. Andrew Smith (3)
10. JJ Hanrahan (4)
9. Colm Reilly (21)
1. Denis Buckley (231)
2. Tadgh McElroy (4)
3. Finlay Bealham (189)
4. Oisín Dowling (47)
5. Joe Joyce (4)
6. Cian Prendergast (51)
7. Conor Oliver (65) (C)
8. Sean O'Brien (2)

16. Dave Heffernan (183)
17. Peter Dooley (21)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (82)
19. Darragh Murray (11)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (23)
21. Caolin Blade (174)
22. David Hawkshaw (16)
23. John Porch (81)