Six Connacht players have been handed their first starts of the season for Sunday’s trip to BT Murrayfield to face Edinburgh (k/o 7.35pm).
 
International call-ups and a number of injuries have meant there’s a reshuffle of Andy Friend’s side from the opening two games, with two players potentially making their debuts off the bench.
 
There’s a new-look half-back partnership of Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade, while Tom Daly comes in for his first start of the season alongside Tom Farrell at centre. Sammy Arnold is named on the wing with Alex Wootton and John Porch completing the back three.
 
In the front row there’s a start for Shane Delahunt and Jack Aungier while Denis Buckley continues at loosehead. Some long-term injuries in the second row means Eoghan Masterson comes in to partner Gavin Thornbury, while Abraham Papali’i has been handed his first start of the campaign at number 8. Paul Boyle and captain Jarrad Butler complete the starting team from blindside and openside flanker respectively.
 
The replacements include scrum-half Colm Reilly and Academy lock Cian Prendergast who would both earn their first Connacht caps if called upon.
 
Commenting on his team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend said:
 
“Having seven players away on international duty is a great situation for Connacht Rugby, and it also provides an opportunity for others to step up and look to fill those vacancies over the next period of time. We’ve still got a core group of experienced players to select from within the squad, so I’m really happy with the depth that we’re building”.
 
Regarding the game itself, Friend added:
 
“There’s no doubt that Edinburgh have been one of the form teams in the competition for the last year and have quality all over the pitch. That said, we learned a lot from our game in Cardiff and we’re expecting this to be a similar type of encounter, so I’m confident we can build on that and put in a performance capable of getting a win”.
 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY SQUAD VS EDINBURGH RUGBY
Sunday 25th October, 7.35pm @ BT Murrayfield
 
Connacht: John Porch, Sammy Arnold, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Alex Wootton, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Jack Aungier, Eoghan Masterson, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Abraham Papali’i
Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Colm Reilly, Peter Robb, Tiernan O’Halloran

By John O’Sullivan

 

Head coach Andy Friend says Connacht will need to improve on their exits and stick more diligently to their game plan in Sunday’s 19:35 Guinness PRO14 kick off away to Edinburgh.

 

In the Westerners last outing, a 29-7 defeat to Cardiff Blues, mistakes in crucial areas of the pitch hampered a good performance and let the Welshmen capitalize and seal the victory.

 

But Friend is confident that his team has learned from the defeat in Wales and is sure they can apply these lessons in what he expects to be a keenly competitive game against the Scots at Murrayfield.

 

“Edinburgh and Cardiff play a very similar style of game,” the Australian said.

 

“We knew what we needed to do, and we did it on the whole. We did it very well. On the four occasions out of 21 that we chose not(stick to the exit plan) to do what we said we were going to do, we leaked 21 points. The evidence is pretty clear for us: stick to the game plan, stick to task and it will work for us.

 

“When we go off script and try to create things, against those sort of teams, who rely on you giving them opportunities by trying to create stuff in the wrong areas of the field. So, we’re going to cop something very similar this weekend and hopefully we’ve learned our lesson from that,” Friend added.

 

With seven Connacht players called into the Irish squad for the resumption of the Six Nations, there will be plenty of squad rotation in upcoming weeks, but Friend believes — despite being without players of the quality of Bundee Aki, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Ultane Dillane, Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty — that the Western province have the right blend of experience and youth in the squad to win games without their international contingent.

 

“I do, I really do,” the former Australia Sevens coach said when asked whether he thought his squad, short of its Irish capped players, can compete over the course of the upcoming international fixture window.

 

“We’ve copped injuries at the front end of the year, we haven’t had some of our more experienced players available to us. But in time they will come back, the likes of Tiernan O’Halloran, Matt Healy and Paddy McAllister, who we haven’t seen at the front end of the season. They’re three of our more senior players.

 

“In time, they will all come back and they will definitely add some experience and some start’s to the team. But in the meantime, we are going to need the young guys to step up and they know what their role is and i’m sure they’re not going to let us down on Sunday.”

 

Meanwhile, back-row Conor Oliver says that Edinburgh will pose a massive challenge for Connacht but he is eager for the opportunity to right a few wrongs from the Cardiff game in the Scottish capital on Sunday evening.

 

“We will go to Edinburgh with a mindset that we need to get points from this game,” said Oliver, who scored the Westerners solitary try away to Cardiff two weekends ago.

 

“They’re a tough team, they came close against Munster last week. I felt we didn’t exit as well as we wanted to, we had a lot of pressure put onto ourselves from Cardiff. We want to be more efficient when we have the ball and to be able to transfer pressure onto the other team.

 

“We’re an expansive Rugby team, we like to play a nice brand of Rugby. We’ve put a few things in place(plans) that we think will give us the benefit this week, mainly holding onto the ball a bit more and being smarter when we actually want to attack and when we want to put pressure back onto the other team,” the 25-year old said.

 

A recent arrival from Munster, Oliver believes the welcome he received from his team-mates has helped him settle quicker into life with Connacht and in Galway.

 

“Everything was pretty smooth. They were really welcoming(the squad), as usual. I felt it was probably better, the way we kind of started off in smaller groups(due to COVID19 restrictions), that let me know guys on a personal level. I’m getting on with everyone and loving it so far, the experience,” the Dubliner said.

Edinburgh Rugby stretched their lead at the top of Guinness PRO14 Conference B after defeating Connacht 41-14 at BT Murrayfield.

In a hard-fought and physically-draining contest it was Richard Cockerill’s men who prevailed, claiming a bonus-point success to tighten their grip at the top of the conference.

Connacht were hindered early on when a serious-looking injury to Finlay Bealham halted proceedings, with the prop replaced by Dominic Robertson-McCoy after only four minutes.

A pair of long-range kicks from Simon Hickey gave Edinburgh an early lead, before the hosts were awarded a penalty try after a solo break by Matt Scott which ended with Jack Carty frustratingly being sent to the sin bin.

From there Edinburgh took advantage of the extra man when Simon Berghan scored from short range to extend their lead.

However, Connacht’s relentless phase-play was awarded when Tiernan O’Halloran powered over on the stroke of half-time to reduce the deficit for the visitors.

When play got back under way, O’Halloran used his strength once again to good use as he registered both his and Connacht’s second try with a pick-and-go underneath the sticks.

With Connacht beginning to look more threatening Edinburgh hit back through prop Pierre Schoeman’s score, before Duhan van der Merwe claimed the all-important bonus-point try for the Scottish club.

A flurry of yellow cards towards the end to Edinburgh’s Eroni Sau and Nick Haining and Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson and Conor Fitzgerald ensured a frenetic finish with Cockerill’s men closing the game out with their second penalty try.

For Connacht a tricky assignment away to the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth awaits before the next home game against Scarlets on the 20th of March – Tickets available here.

Connacht Scorers:

Tries – Tiernan O’Halloran (2)

Conversions – Jack Carty (2)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb (Tom Daly), John Porch, Jack Carty (Conor Fitzgerald), Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade) (1-8): Denis Buckley (Paddy McAllister), Shane Delahunt (Jonny Murphy), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson McCoy), Niall Murray (Eoghan Masterson), Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle (Eoin McKeon), Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

 

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made four changes to his starting team to face Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 at Murrayfield on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
With Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane unavailable due to international duty and Gavin Thornbury picking up an injury last weekend, all four changes come in the forward pack that dominated Cardiff last time out.
 
In the front row, prop Denis Buckley and hooker Shane Delahunt are the two new faces with tighthead Finlay Bealham retained from the Cardiff game, while in the second row, Joe Maksymiw and Niall Murray both come into the starting team.
 
The back row does remain unchanged with Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively and captain Jarrad Butler at number 8.
 
There are no changes in the backs which means that Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion continue their half-back partnership, while in midfield Kyle Godwin and Peter Robb will hope to make a big impact against the conference rivals.
 
The side is completed by a back three that includes Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back and Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We put in a good performance against Cardiff, but we know there are still areas for improvement and Edinburgh in Murrayfield are a different prospect this week. They have set the pace in our conference and are sitting top of the table. We know that results against them at home and away between now and the end of the season will have a huge bearing on our qualification prospects”.
 
“We have made four changes to our starting team from last weekend but there is still a familiar look to it. We have selected a team that we feel will challenge Edinburgh and we are looking forward to the challenge on Friday evening”, Friend added.
 
Connacht Matchday Squad V Edinburgh (Fri 21 Feb, 7:35pm)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

Ireland international scrum half Kieran Marmion is set to make his first start of the Guinness PRO14 campaign as Connacht take on Edinburgh in Murrayfield on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).

The game also marks the return of Bundee Aki who is named on the bench for Connacht’s first away trip of the season. 

Marmion’s return is one of four changes to the Connacht starting side that secured a bonus point win over Zebre last weekend, with young Sligo prop Conan O’Donnell, lock Ultan Dillane and winger Niyi Adeolokun also included. 

21 year old Academy player Paul Boyle is again named at number 8 after his two tries and Man of the Match performance against Zebre. He is part of an unchanged back row with Captain Jarrad Butler at openside and Sean O’Brien at blindside. 

Adeolokun’s inclusion on the wing sees him join a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back. The centre pairing of Eoin Griffin and Kyle Godwin is also retained with Aki set to feature off the bench.

Announcing his team, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend spoke about the depth in his squad which is leading to some genuine competition for places: “It is pleasing that we have some real depth and quality coming through, it’s how we balance it while rewarding good performances at the same time. We also really need that physicality against this Edinburgh side”, Friend said.

“This week we are welcoming back two more internationals. Kieran Marmion will start, having come off the bench last week. He is a real quality player and it is great to have him in our starting team after getting an extra break following Ireland’s tour to Australia. The other big addition is to have Bundee back. He starts off the bench and is raring to go. We face a big challenge in Murrayfield and no doubt Edinburgh will be hurting after the loss last weekend – it’s another massive challenge for us”, he added.

#EDIvCON

Kick-off 7:35pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Kyle Godwin, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Conan O’Donnell, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Ultan Dillane, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Paul Boyle.

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Bundee Aki. 

Ahead of our trip to Edinburgh on Friday for our first away game in the Guinness PRO14, Kieran Marmion speaks about the added strength in depth and how the new faces have settled into the squad.

Don’t forget the next time you can see Connacht in action is the crucial meeting with Scarlets on Saturday 22nd September. Tickets are on sale at connachtrugby.ie/tickets.

Connacht marked their first visit to Myreside with a 22-19 victory over Edinburgh with Pat Lam’s men withstanding a late comeback to secure their fifth PRO12 victory from the last seven games.

Eoin McKeon scored the only Connacht try with Steve Crosbie, on his second start for the province, kicking six from six in a very composed display from out-half.

Connacht led 22-0 with 63 minutes on the clock but a penalty try, with Tiernan O’Halloran sin-binned as a result, and a score under the posts from Hamish Watson made it 22-14 by the 68th minute.

That ensured an uncomfortable finish for Connacht and a Glenn Bryce try in the left corner on 74 minutes had the nerves jangling but O’Halloran soon returned and the visitors held on.

A clinical first-half display ended with Connacht 17-0 in front as Crosbie kicked his first long-range penalty on nine minutes after Connacht’s first foray into opposition territory.

Edinburgh were enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory but Connacht were defending well and were soon six points to the good after another excellent long-range kick by Crosbie on 27 minutes.

McKeon struck for Connacht’s first try on the half hour with Kieran Marmion timing his pass perfectly to pop McKeon through a gap with the flanker picking a great line and scoring under the posts.

Clinical Connacht struck again before the break as Crosbie slotted another tricky penalty with ease to make it 17-0 at the interval.

Edinburgh had their chances in that first half but Duncan Weir was off target with both of his penalties.

As in the first half, Connacht defended well to repel the early Edinburgh attacks before capitalising at the other end through the boot of Crosbie for a 19-0 lead on 50 minutes.

Tom McCartney soon departed with a leg injury and The Fields of Athenry was soon heard around Myreside with the travelling support in full voice.

John Muldoon was pointing to the posts again on the hour after an Edinburgh high tackle and Crosbie obliged with a simple three-pointer for a 22-0 lead and Connacht looked home and hosed.

Edinburgh were not going to go down without a fight however and when O’Halloran, on his 100th PRO12 appearance, was deemed to have halted an attack with an intentional offside, referee Dan Jones awarded a penalty try and sin-binned O’Halloran.

Weir kicked the 64th minute conversion and when Hamish Watson slipped through a tackle and touched down under the posts four minutes later, the comeback was well and truly on.

Edinburgh, sensing their opportunity, kept swarming forward and were within three points of overturning the one-time 22-point deficit when Glenn Bryce dived over in the left corner on 74 minutes.

O’Halloran returned after Weir’s missed conversion and Connacht weathered the storm to see out the final minutes for the victory.

Book your Early Bird Season Tickets for the 2017/18 season here.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun (Josh Rowland, 72), Eoin Griffin, Bundee Aki, Danie Poolman; Steve Crosbie (Jack Carty, 62), Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade, 61); Denis Buckley (JP Cooney, 67), Tom McCartney (Shane Delahunt, 51), Dominic Robertson-McCoy (Finlay Bealham, 45); Quinn Roux (James Cannon, 63), Andrew Browne; Eoin McKeon, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (C) (Naulia Dawai, 63).

The Connacht side has been named for tomorrow night’s clash against Edinburgh at Myreside (7.35pm, live on TG4).

There are seven changes to the team beaten in Zebre last weekend with Ireland internationals Tiernan O’Halloran and Kieran Marmion among the players to be drafted into the starting XV.

Set to make his 100th PRO12 appearance, O’Halloran has been among the top full-backs in the competition again this season with the most metres gained and more carries than any other player.

With five personnel changes in the backline, Marmion starts at scrum-half and Niyi Adeolokun, having shaken off a niggle, also returns on the right ring. Danie Poolman switches to the left flank while Steve Crosbie makes his second start for the province at out-half. After making his return from injury off the bench last week, Eoin Griffin is handed a starting place and will partner Bundee Aki in the centres.

There is one change to the front row as Dominic Robertson-McCoy replaces Finlay Bealham with Denis Buckley and Tom McCartney retaining their places.

Quinn Roux and Andrew Browne remain in situ in the second row with Eoin McKeon moving to blindside flanker as Jake Heenan has recovered from a minor shin injury to start at openside flanker. Captain John Muldoon continues at no.8.

Shane Delahunt, JP Cooney and Bealham provide the front row cover with James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Josh Rowland completing the replacements.

Ahead of the clash, head coach Pat Lam said: “This is our third away game in a row and after last week’s game in Italy, we have an opportunity to produce a performance we can be proud of.

“Although we have been creating numerous opportunities to score, it is all about making sure we take those chances tomorrow night.

“Edinburgh are always tough, physical opposition and we are looking forward to a big challenge on our first visit to Myreside.”

View match preview and the latest squad update here.

Book your Early Bird Season Tickets for the 2017/18 season here.

Connacht team to face Edinburgh

Friday, April 7, kick off 7.35pm, Myreside

(Connacht caps in brackets)

15           Tiernan O’Halloran (123)

14           Niyi Adeolokun (54)

13           Eoin Griffin (75)

12           Bundee Aki (57)

11           Danie Poolman (81)

10           Steve Crosbie (2)

9           Kieran Marmion (117)

1           Denis Buckley (114)

2           Tom McCartney (61)

3           Dominic Robertson-McCoy (7)

4           Quinn Roux (53)

5           Andrew Browne (151)

6           Eoin McKeon (103)

7           Jake Heenan (50)

8           John Muldoon (298) (captain)

 

Replacements:

16           Shane Delahunt (24)

17           JP Cooney (46)

18           Finlay Bealham (78)

19           James Cannon (14)

20           Sean O’Brien (36)

21           Caolin Blade (41)

22           Jack Carty (77)

23           Josh Rowland (2)

Injured/unavailable:  Ronan Loughney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Nepia Fox-Matamua, James Connolly, Marnitz Boshoff, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Cian Kelleher, Darragh Leader, Stacey Ili.

Match Officials

Referee: Dan Jones (WRU, 7th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (WRU), Lloyd Linton (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter (SRU)
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)

Connacht make the trip to Myreside on Friday night where Pat Lam’s men will be looking to rebound from their loss away to Zebre last weekend. An Irish victory on Scottish soil would all but end Edinburgh Rugby’s mathematical hopes of making the Champions Cup play-offs depending on how Cardiff Blues get on against Ulster Rugby.

See the latest squad update here.

Did you know?

  • Connacht have slipped to back-to-back away defeats in the Guinness PRO12 at Glasgow and at Zebre, but did win twice in Scotland last season, over Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield and against Leinster in the Guinness PRO12 final at the same venue.
  • Connacht have won their last three matches against Edinburgh since the Scotsmen were victorious in Galway in January 2015.
  • Edinburgh Rugby have lost their last six Guinness PRO12 matches since losing to Zebre in Parma on 31 December.
  • Edinburgh’s only victory since their return to Myreside was 49-3 over Timisoara in the European Challenge Cup on 20 January.
  •  Connacht have never visited Myreside before.

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record: Played 28, Edinburgh won 14, Connacht won 12 and 2 games drawn.

Friday, April 7

Edinburgh v Connacht, Myreside, 7.35pm (Live on TG4 & BBC Alba)
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU, 7th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (WRU), Lloyd Linton (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter (SRU)
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)

HEAD TO HEAD – RECENT GUINNESS PRO12 MEETINGS
Date Venue E C Edinburgh scorers Connacht scorers
Sat 15 Feb 14 Sportsground 7 11 Roddy Grant(T) Carl Bezuidenhout(C) Dan Parks(P) Michael Swift(T) Craig Ronaldson(P)
Fri 12 Sep 14 BT Murrayfield 13 14 Cornell du Preez(T) Tom Heathcote(C/2P) Willie Faloon(T) Darragh Leader(3P)
Fri 9 Jan 15 Sportsground 16 13 David Denton(T) Sam Hidalgo-Clyne(C/3P) Miah Nikora(C/2P) Penalty Try(T)
Sat 31 Oct 15 Sportsground 9 14 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne(2P) Blair Kinghorn(P) Tiernan O’Halloran(T) Jack Carty(3P)
Fri 4 Mar 16 BT Murrayfield 23 28 Chris Dean(T) Cornell du Preez(T) Sam Hidalgo-Clyne(C/2P) Damien Hoyland(T) Eoin McKeon(T) Aj MacGinty(T/C) Jake Heenan(T) Bundee Aki(T) Craig Ronaldson(3C)
Fri 30 Sep 16 Sportsground 15 28 Mike Allen(T) Grant Gilchrist(T) Jason Tovey(C/P) Jack Carty(C/2P) Quinn Roux(T) Niyi Adeolokun(T) Cian Kelleher(T) Peter Robb(T)

 

Weekend Fixtures

Friday, April 7: Edinburgh Rugby v Connacht Rugby (7.35pm, BBC ALBA/TG4); Ulster Rugby v Cardiff Blues (7.35pm, BBC Northern Ireland/BBC Wales).

Saturday, April 8: Zebre Rugby v Newport-Gwent Dragons (2.30pm, Eurosport); Ospreys Rugby v Leinster Rugby (3pm, Sky Sports); Scarlets v Benetton Rugby Treviso (7.35pm, S4C); Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors (7.35pm, TG4/BBC ALBA).

View the Guinness PRO12 table here.

Early Bird Season Tickets for the 2017/18 season are on sale until 5pm on April 30.

GUARANTEE YOUR TICKET TODAY.

 

Having returned from Italy yesterday, the Connacht squad trained today as preparations began for Friday night’s Guinness PRO12 clash against Edinburgh at Myreside (7.35pm, live on TG4).

After a well-earned rest week, Ireland internationals Kieran Marmion and Tiernan O’Halloran are back in contention and trained today.

Niyi Adeolokun, JP Cooney and Jake Heenan have all recovered from minor injuries and are available for selection.

Naulia Dawai’s Visa issues have been resolved and he is also in contention for the trip to Edinburgh.

Stacey Ili, a try-scorer in the defeat to Zebre, was replaced in the first half of that game with an ankle injury and is awaiting the results of a scan.

Ronan Loughney injured his arm in training last week and will see a specialist to determine the extent of the injury.

 

Early Bird Season Tickets for the 2017/18 season are on sale until 5pm on April 30.
GUARANTEE YOUR TICKET TODAY.

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