John Porch is set for his first competitive start for Connacht after he was named in the starting 15 for Friday Night’s Guinness PRO14 tie with the Dragons at Rodney Parade (k/o 7.35pm).
The inclusion of the Australian winger is the only change from the side that defeated Benetton last weekend, with the Connacht side running in 6 tries in the 41-5 win.
Porch plays in a back three that includes winger Matt Healy and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran, while Peter Robb and Kyle Godwin are selected at midfield.
Caolin Blade and Conor Fitzgerald, who both impressed last time out, continue their half-back partnership at scrum-half and out-half respectively.
The front five is unchanged for the third straight game, with hooker Tom McCartney alongside props Paddy McAllister and Finlay Bealham, and a second-row combination of Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux.
Captain Jarrad Butler continues at openside, with Eoghan Masterson at blindside and Paul Boyle at number 8.
Commenting on his team selection, Andy Friend says it’s important to build on the performance at The Sportsground last Saturday: “I was really pleased with the performance last weekend, so with a 6-day turnaround we’ve selected much the same squad to keep the momentum going. We’ve handed John Porch his first start after his competitive debut last weekend, and Cillian Gallagher is among the replacements after some good performances for the Connacht Eagles, so we are continuing to build the depth required for a long season.”
Speaking ahead of the trip to Wales, the Head Coach says: “Rodney Parade is a tough place to go and with the Dragons playing a more expansive game this season we know our defence has to be on top form, but we also need to be clinical in attack when opportunities arise. This is our last game in this block before a short break so we’re aiming to finish on a high before our run of 13 weeks of games.” CONNACHT MATCHDAY SQUAD V DRAGONS (FRI 11 OCT, 7.35PM @ RODNEY PARADE)
(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade
(1-8): Paddy McAllister, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Cillian Gallagher, Kieran Marmion, Tom Farrell, Stephen Fitzgerald.