Friday 26 May 2017

Elwood wary of ambush at Treviso

Hugh Farrelly

AFTER last weekend's gut-wrenching end-game against Leinster, Eric Elwood has spent the week trying to mentally prepare his battered Connacht troops for this hazardous trip to Treviso.

Connacht have shown greater verve on the ball this season but it was ambition that got the better of them against Leinster when their attempts to engineer a try inside their own half allowed Dominic Ryan to pick off an intercept and deny Elwood's men a deserved losing bonus point.

Largely unaffected by international withdrawals -- hooker Sean Cronin is the only absentee -- Elwood team has a familiar look to it, with Adrian Flavin coming in for Cronin and Frank Murphy rested, with Cillian Willis at scrum-half.

Treviso have won three of their four home matches in the Magners League and have clearly targeted this fixture, as a clutch of first choices were rested for last weekend's heavy defeat in Munster.

Elwood, aware of the heavy workload he is placing on his frontline players, has scaled down training this week.

Connacht's problems away from the Sportsground are well established and, though they secured an excellent win away to the Scarlets in September, they were then beaten in their next two away trips to Glasgow and Cardiff. They have a pack to match Treviso and the back row will need to quell the influence of Alessandro Zanni.

In Fionn Carr, Gavin Duffy and Niva Ta'auso, the visitors also have players to do damage out wide, while Treviso have southern hemisphere potency in their back three through Brendan Williams and Joe Maddock -- as well as Gonzalo Garcia in the centre.

An away win may be asking too much, but with sufficient steel, energy and focus, a losing bonus point is within their grasp.

Verdict: Treviso win, Connacht bonus point

TREVISO -- B Williams; L Nitoglia, T Benvenuti, G Garcia, J Maddock; K Burton, T Botes; IF Rouyet, L Ghiraldini, P Di Santo; A Pavanello (capt), Corniel van Zyl; B Vermaak, A Zanni, R Barbieri. Reps: F Sbaraglini, M Muccignat, L Cittadini, E Pavanello, M Filippucci, A Sgarbi, F Semenzato, S Picone.

CONNACHT -- G Duffy; D Fanning, N Ta'auso, K Matthews, F Carr; I Keatley, C Willis; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, J Hagan; M Swift, M McCarthy; J O'Connor, R Ofisa, J Muldoon. Reps: D Murphy, R Loughney, B Fa'amausili, B Upton, E Taylor, F Murphy, M Nikora, T Nathan.

REF -- T Hayes (Wales).

Irish Independent

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