Sligo native and Connacht Academy player Cillian Gallagher is set to make his first start for Connacht in the Challenge Cup clash away to Brive on Saturday (K.O. 8pm). Gallagher who made his debut off the bench in the Challenge Cup win over Worcester in October, starts at blindside in a back row that includes Eoghan Masterson at openside and Captain John Muldoon at number 8.

 

The Connacht starting XV also sees the new centre partnership of new signing Pita Ahki and Ireland international Bundee Aki, who returns to the side after his involvement in the November internationals.

 

In the pack Shane Delahunt is retained at Hooker where he is flanked by Denis Buckley at loose head and Finlay Bealham at tight head.

 

Connacht have got off to a good start so far in the Challenge Cup and sit on top of Pool 5 in the competition with 9 points after two rounds. The back to back fixtures against their French opponents are likely to have a huge bearing on who qualifies for the knock out stages of the competition.

 

Speaking ahead of the game, Connacht Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy is under no illusion of the battle they face against the Top14 side: “We are expecting a huge physical battle against Brive on Saturday. They will have a big strong pack and will look to maul at every opportunity. We will need to match that physicality and we have been really focusing on in training during the week.”

 

#BRIvCON

Kick-off 8:00pm (Irish Time):

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Pita Ahki, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion,
(1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Cillian Gallagher, Eoghan Masterson, John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, James Cannon, James Connolly, James Mitchell, Tom Farrell, Darragh Leader.

 

Brive v Connacht

 

 

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