Irish Internationals return for Connacht as they target Challenge Cup Quarter Final

12 January 2018

Irish Internationals return for Connacht as they target Challenge Cup Quarter Final
Irish Internationals Ultan Dillane, Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion return to Kieran Keane’s Connacht side as they travel to Sixways to take on Worcester Warriors in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (Kick off 3pm). A win for Connacht will secure top spot in Pool 5 of the competition and a place in the Quarter Finals with a game to spare.

With James Cannon ruled out with injury, Dillane’s return will be a boost to the Connacht pack which includes loosehead Peter McCabe, who made his first start against Munster and tighthead Conor Carey. In the back row Eoghan Masterson returns at blindside having been rested last week. Captain John Muldoon, who started in Connacht’s last victory in Sixways back in 2009, starts at number 8.

Scrum half Kieran Marmion returns to form a new half back pairing with Craig Ronaldson as Jack Carty is rested from the matchday 23 after a hectic Christmas schedule. The backline is also boosted by Bundee Aki’s return where he will play alongside Tom Farrell.

The back three includes Tiernan O’Halloran at fullback and Darragh Leader and Niyi Adeolokun on the wings. Cian Kelleher is included among the replacements having returned from injury this week.

Ahead of the game, Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy spoke of Connacht’s desire to extend their 100% winning run in Europe this season. “There is a lot of energy after last weekend, but one thing we are really pleased with is that guys who were given opportunities during the interpros really took them, so it casts a different light over selection, and it means we are having longer selection meetings and that is the space we are in”, explained Duffy.

“We have performed really well in Europe this season and we have given ourselves a great chance of advancing in the competition, but the job is not done yet. We are well aware of the threat posed by Worcester and where their strengths lie. We are targeting a home quarter final, which would be a massive occasion in the Sportsground. We have two games left in the pool stages and we need to win both to be guaranteed that home quarter final”, added Duffy.



Kick-off 3:00pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Niyi Adeolokun, Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Denis Coulson, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, Naulia Dawai, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin, Cian Kelleher.