Friday 9 December 2016

Twin fitness boost for Lam as he eyes Ospreys double

Declan Rooney

Published 27/02/2016 | 02:30

Sean O'Brien. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Sean O'Brien. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Connacht have been boosted by the fitness of Craig Ronaldson and Jake Heenan for today's vital top six battle with Ospreys at the Sportsground (7.35).

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Both players had scans during the week but have been named in the starting XV by Pat Lam as he searches for Connacht's first double over Ospreys in 12 seasons.

Connacht are the in-form team in the league as three bonus-point wins in a row saw them return to the top of the standings last week, but Lam admits his side will need to be better against the Welsh region.

"This is a step up. Ospreys have won two from two. They are desperate to catch up. It's a massive, massive game," he said.

"They're certainly in form, having lost just one game in their last nine and we know they will be hungry to continue their climb up the table."

The loss of Eoghan Masterson to a season-ending knee injury sees Galway native Sean O'Brien come in at blindside flanker, with skipper John Muldoon moving to No 8.

Rodney Ah You and Caolin Blade both start after Finlay Bealham and Kieran Marmion were only released from Ireland camp on Thursday and are named on the b#ench.

In the only other change from last week's win in Parma, Ben Marshall is replaced in the second row by George Naoupu.

"Our focus is on getting our job right," said Lam. "We have got a team that's on a good run of form and are desperate to get the four points and we are exactly the same, so it's going to be a great game."

Verdict: Connacht

Connacht - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; AJ MacGinty, C Blade; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You; G Naoupu, A Muldowney; S O'Brien, J Heenan, J Muldoon. Reps: D Heffernan, R Loughney, F Bealham, B Marshall, J Connolly, K Marmion, P Robb, D Poolman.

Ospreys - D Evans; J Hassler, JJ Engelbrecht, J Matavesi, B John; S Davies; R Webb; P James, S Parry, D Arhip; J King, R Thornton; J Bearman, O Cracknell, D Baker. Reps: S Otten, G Thomas, A Jarvis, R Bernardo, J Collier, B Leonard, O Watkin, E Walker.

Connacht v Ospreys, Live, TG4, 7.35

Irish Independent

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