Head Coach Andy Friend has made four changes to the Connacht starting team from the side that recorded a bonus point win over Dragons two weeks ago.
 
With Tiernan O’Halloran and Paddy McAllister out of action until December, Connacht have had to reshuffle slightly but Darragh Leader has returned from a leg injury to take his place on the bench.
 
Stephen Fitzgerald comes straight into the side at fullback for the injured O’Halloran. He is part of a new look back three that sees Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings. Fitzgerald’s brother Conor is retained at out half following his impressive start to the season, and he forms a half back partnership with Kieran Marmion.
 
The midfield remains unchanged with Peter Robb and Kyle Godwin continuing their partnership.
 
Loosehead Denis Buckley comes back into the side for his first start of the season, alongside hooker Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham at tighthead.
 
The second row sees Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux together for the fourth straight game, while the backrow also has a familiar look to it with Captain Jarrad Butler at openside, Eoghan Masterson at blindside and Paul Boyle occupying the number 8 jersey.
 
Connacht face a Cheetahs side that have been hugely impressive in their opening games with three bonus point wins recorded in Bloemfontein. This impressive form is something that Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says his side will be well prepared for:
 
“The Cheetahs have been impressive in their opening three games and have three bonus points on the board so we will have to be at our best against them. But we have a had a really good start to the season as well, with two wins from our opening three games so fans can expect an exciting game on Saturday evening”.
 
Commenting on his team selection he added; “Unfortunately we have to plan without Tiernan O’Halloran and Paddy McAllister until December but I have always said that this block of thirteen games in a row was going to require real depth in our squad. We have picked a match day 23 targeting a home win.”

 
Connacht Matchday Squad V Toyota Cheetahs (Sat 26 OCT, 5.15PM)
 
(15-9): Stephen Fitzgerald, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch, Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Cillian Gallagher, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell, Darragh Leader.

Russia 14-42 Connacht
 
Two almost identical tries from winger Stephen Fitzgerald set up a comfortable win over a Russian side playing their final World Cup warm up game before departing for Japan next week.
 
Russia were competitive for large parts of the game and found themselves within one converted try of Connacht with 68 minutes on the clock.
 
When Stephen Fitzgerald latched onto a Niyi Adeolokun kick ahead to touch down it looked like Connacht would pull away and when he repeated the trick four minutes later, the result was never in doubt.
 
Connacht had the perfect start to the game when Tom Farrell’s grubber kick was picked up by his midfield partner Tom Daly who ran in under the posts. Darragh Leader added the conversion and went on to convert all of Connacht’s six tries with a one hundred per-cent kicking success off the tee.
 
By half time Connacht had added a second try when Leader scored and converted Connacht’s second try. Russia did respond on the scoreboard when their fullback and captain Vasily Artemyev broke from the Connacht 22. With just seven points between the teams at half time, it seemed that Russia may be capable of causing an upset.
 
Connacht started the second half the way the started the first when Jonny Murphy was on the end of a strong maul. Russia responded again with a try in the 55th minute but it was all one way traffic from there to the finish.
 
Fitzgerald’s brace then ended the game as a contest as Paul Boyle scored Connacht’s sixth and final try with two minutes remaining.
 
Connacht Team (Replacements in brackets)
(15-9) Darragh Leader, John Porch (Niyi Adeolokun), Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald, David Horwitz (Conor Fitzgerald), Angus Lloyd (Stephen Kerins), (1-8) Denis Buckley (Matthew Burke), Jonny Murphy (Tom McCartney), Dominic Robertson-McCoy (Conor Kenny), Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux (Ultan Dillane), Eoin McKeon (Eoghan Masterson), Paul Boyle, Robin Copeland (Jarrad Butler).
 

Players and coaches from Connacht Rugby, in conjunction with Official Fuel Partner Top Oil, attended Rice College, Westport and Calasanctius College Oranmore recently to meet and inspire the next generation of rugby players and students within the school.
 
In Oranmore, Sean O’Brien made a welcome return to his alma mater Calasanticus College. He was joined by fellow senior professional players David Heffernan and Stephen Fitzgerald along with Club & Community Rugby Officer Morgan Codyre.
 
Coach Development Officer JP Walsh was joined by senior professional players David Horwitz and Tom McCartney on the pitch in Westport. Head Physiotherapist of Connacht Rugby Gareth Coughlan was also on hand to answer questions and provide expert insight on what it takes to prepare and maintain high level professional players.
 
The young students learned the importance of preparation and how a mix of hard work and commitment, rest and correct nutrition along with the ambition and belief to succeed can ensure high performance on and off the field.
 
Commenting on the initiative, Regional Manager for Top Oil Clíona Ní Murchú commented:
“As a family owned company with deep roots in our community we work hard to make a difference in the communities we serve. We are delighted that through our sponsorship of Connacht Rugby we can create special moments such as these to inspire the next generation. It was great to see so many boys participating in the training session and asking some really good questions during the Q&A.”
 
Connacht Rugby Sponsorship Manager Gavin Duffy commented:
“We have seen significant growth in participation across our school’s program over the last number of years. Top Oil are not only our Official Fuel Partner but also the sponsor of our Schools Cup competitions and their continued support over this period has been significant and greatly appreciated. Like Connacht Rugby, Top Oil are committed to making a positive impact across our communities and it is great to see this particular initiative of connecting todays professional players with the next generation of stars bringing our vision of Grassroots to Green Shirts alive.”
 

 

 

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald and Angus Lloyd have all signed contracts with the province ahead of 2019/20 season. The trio had all featured for Connacht on loan periods during the current campaign and have impressed Andy Friend and his coaching team.
 
Tom Daly joined Connacht in December 2018 and made his debut in the interprovincial derby with Munster at the start of January. The centre has since gone on to make six further appearances in a Connacht jersey, scoring a try against the Glasgow Warriors in February. Daly has previously been capped for Ireland at U20 level and is also a former captain of the Ireland Rugby 7s team.
 
Stephen Fitzgerald joins his brother Conor who signed his first professional contract with Connacht this week. Fitzgerald made his debut in the interprovincial win over Ulster at the end of 2018 and like Daly has featured seven times in total for the province, also scoring a try against Glasgow. At international level, the winger has featured for the Ireland U20s, representing his country at the 2015 World Under 20 Championship.
 
Angus Lloyd will return to Connacht have joined on a short-term contract in December 2018, providing injury cover at scrum-half and playing twice for the province in that time. He has previously been capped by Ulster and Munster in the Guinness PRO14.
 
Announcing the latest contracts, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said that all three signings were agreed after impressive loan periods during the season: “We are delighted with the contribution Tom, Stephen and Angus made to our squad during the current season. All three came into the squad at a time when we needed cover due to injuries and international call ups and all three have fitted in seamlessly to our squad. They are three important additions to our plans for next season. This is further good news on our squad having signed three players from our academy earlier in the week. I am happy with our recruitment programme so far for next season and we expect to make further announcements before our squad is finalised.

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