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Connacht Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Guinness Pro 14, Round 6
The Sportsground, Galway
Friday, 8th November 2019, 19:35

TV: Live on Eir Sports/TG4

Leinster take on Connacht away on Friday night in their first inter-provincial match of the season.

It's easily Leinster's toughest game of the season so far against one of the form teams in the league. Connacht have won four from five games to lie in second place in Conference B. While Leinster were slogging it out with Zebre a fortnight ago Connacht were beating the high-flying Cheetahs in a cracking match.

Coach Andy Friend has made a big impact since he joined at the beginning of last season. After an uncomfortable season under Kieran Keane, Friend has restored some of the feelgood factor that was there in the Pat Lam years. They're playing some sparkling rugby again but there is perhaps more of a structure underpinning things too which has led to greater consistency. This got them back into the play-offs for the first time since winning the Pro14 back in 2016 and back in the Heineken Cup for this season.

They've drawn a tough pool with the French giants Toulouse and Montpellier and their old mates Gloucester (who they've met in European competition a frankly ridiculous amount of times). But they'll be looking to go into Europe on the back of a win and they've named a team which includes their two World Cup squad members Jack Carty (starting) and Bundee Aki (on the bench). Carty is named in a backline that features the in-form Niyi Adeolokun and Tom Farrell and their pack is led by skipper Jarrad Butler who is one of the most consistent performers in Irish rugby. Another Ireland international Kieran Marmion is named on the bench and he may be rethinking his rumoured move to Saracens given the London club's unfortunate news during the week. It's a shame as K-Mar properties could have been a beautiful thing.

Leinster also see some of their World Cup contingent being bled back into the side with Luke McGrath, Robbie Henshaw, Cian Healy and Andrew Porter coming into the starting lineup and Rhys Ruddock and Rob Kearney named on the bench. In the backline only James Lowe retains the same jersey from last week as Hugo Keenan and Adam Byrne come into the back three. Henshaw is named as outside centre with Joe Tomane on the inside and Ross Byrne replaces his brother Harry to partner McGrath at half back. In the pack Healy and Porter come in to start either side of Ronan Kelleher. Scott Fardy comes into the second row alongside Devin Toner and assumes the captaincy from him. Josh Murphy and Will Connors come in on the flanks with Max Deegan moving to number eight.

Leinster did the double over Connacht last season. They won a grim battle in the sportsground and then came back from 29-12 down to win a classic in the RDS just before Christmas. That was a game Connacht will still be stinging from as they were far and away the better team on the day but just threw it away in the last fifteen minutes.

The motivation from that defeat might just get them over the line tomorrow evening.

Team Lineups

Connacht Rugby

Leinster Rugby
Teams Darragh Leader 15 Hugo Keenan
Niyi Adeolokun 14 Adam Byrne
Tom Farrell 13 Robbie Henshaw
Peter Robb 12 Joe Tomane
Stephen Fitzgerald 11 James Lowe
Jack Carty 10 Ross Byrne
Caolin Blade 9 Luke McGrath

Denis Buckley 1 Cian Healy
Tom McCartney 2 Ronan Kelleher
Finlay Bealham 3 Andrew Porter
Cillian Gallagher 4 Devin Toner
Joe Maksymiw 5 Scott Fardy (C)
Eoghan Masterson 6 Josh Murphy
Jarrad Butler (C) 7 Will Connors
Paul Boyle 8 Max Deegan

Replacements Dave Heffernan 16 James Tracy
Matthew Burke 17 Ed Byrne
Dominic Robertson-McCoy 18 Michael Bent
Sean O'Brien 19 Ross Molony
Colby Fainga'a 20 Rhys Ruddock
Kieran Marmion 21 Jamison Gibson-Park
Bundee Aki 22 Ciaran Frawley
Kyle Godwin 23 Rob Kearney

Not Considered
due to Injury


Dan Leavy,
Barry Daly,
Jack Conan,
Sean Cronin,
Fergus McFadden
Officials Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU),
Assistant Referees: Johnny Erskine (IRFU), Mark Patton (IRFU),
TMO: Leo Colgan (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-11-07

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