Saturday 22 July 2017

Elwood eyes victory over vulnerable old master

Hugh Farrelly

CONNACHT coach Eric Elwood has the opportunity to put one over on his former mentor when Michael Bradley's Edinburgh run out at the Sportsground this evening (7.30).

Elwood played under Bradley at Connacht and then worked alongside him as assistant coach before taking over the head role when Bradley stepped down in 2010.

The two have a strong relationship going back to the days when they were paired together at half-back for Ireland in the early 1990s, but that will not affect Elwood's pursuit of a fourth Pro12 victory this evening.

Last weekend's last-gasp draw with Glasgow has boosted morale in Connacht and Edinburgh are vulnerable without a clutch of players on international duty with Scotland.

The home side are only missing prop Brett Wilkinson, who has been training with Ireland, although he may be available for bench duties as Denis Buckley starts at loose-head.

There is a welcome return for scrum-half Frank Murphy, who has recovered from his groin injury and partners Niall O'Connor. Bradley is still able to call on the league's most potent finisher in Tim Visser and the experienced Chris Paterson.

"I know the set-up and the side very well and have naturally tried to use that to our advantage," said Bradley. "But when the game kicks off it will be business as usual."

Verdict: Connacht

CONNACHT -- G Duffy (capt); F Vainikolo, K Tonetti, H Fa'afili, T O'Halloran; N O'Connor, F Murphy; D Buckley, A Flavin, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, E Grace, G Naoupu. Reps: E Reynecke, D Rogers/B Wilkinson, S Maguire, M Kearney, R Ofisa, P O'Donohoe, M Jarvis, E Griffin.

EDINBURGH -- C Paterson; T Brown, J Thompson, M Scott, T Visser; G Hunter, C Leck; K Traynor, A Kelly, J Gilding; G Gilchrist, S Cox; S McInally, R Grant (capt), N Talei. Reps: A Walker, M MacDonald, U Gamboa, E Lozada, H Watson, A Black, P Godman, D Fife.

REF -- C Damasco (Italy).

Irish Independent

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