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Cooney can quicken the pulse

It would not be unreasonable to suggest John Cooney's speed of service moves him ahead of Kieron Marmion in this critical encounter at Stadio Lanfranchi this evening (KO5.30, TG4).

The primary idea would be to put the ball into the hands of centres Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw a touch earlier with Tiernan O'Halloran beginning to take on the appearance of one to watch from full-back.

So much of this will come down to how fast out-half Jack Carty can learn from his recent mistakes and how well the Connacht eight, with the outstanding Aly Muldowney in the engine room, stand-up to the home forwards, led by the ageless Mauro Bergamasco.

Zebre: D Berryman; G Venditti, M Pratichetti, G Garcia, M Visentin; L Orquera, B Leonard; M Aguero, A Manici, D Chistolini, Q Geldenhuys, V Bernabo, F Cristiano, M Bergamasco, A Van Schalkwyk.

Connacht: T O'Halloran; D Poolman, R Henshaw, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, J Cooney; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You, U Dillane, A Muldowney, J Muldoon, (capt), E Masterson, E McKeon.

Verdict: Connacht