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Connacht out to give Elwood one last hurrah on the road

AWAY from the glare of the Heineken Cup, Connacht play their second last game of the Eric Elwood regime in Italy tonight.

The coach will get a proper Galway send-off against Glasgow Warriors in a week's time, but his eyes will firmly be on leap-frogging Cardiff Blues and into eighth place ahead of their last game when tonight's seventh-placed opponents will be in their sights.

Treviso themselves are on course for their best finish and while play-offs may be well beyond both teams, there is progress to be achieved.

The Stadio Monigo holds little fear for Elwood's troops, who have won here before and have edged their battles with Treviso since they joined the league. Connacht are playing out their season, but giving their departing coach a good send-off will be top of the agenda.

The hand injury suffered by Robbie Henshaw last weekend keeps him out, meaning Gavin Duffy continues to captain the side.

Elwood shuffles his pack as Ethienne Reynecke comes in for Adrian Flavin at hooker, while Andrew Browne is restored to the blindside with Eoin McKeon at openside. There is one change behind the scrum, where Matt Healy starts on the right wing, with Fetu'u Vainikolo losing out.

This clash is the only Pro12 game of the weekend, having been rescheduled after the initial fixture fell victim to the weather. It may rain tonight, but temperatures are expected to be over 20C in northern Italy.

Treviso, who downed Edinburgh 30-10 last weekend, possess the ball-carrying ability of the likes of Alessandro Zanni and Leonardo Ghiraldini. It will be a tough task and Connacht will need to be at their best to get the points.

Verdict: Treviso

TREVISO – L McLean; L Nitoglia, M Campagnaro, G La Grange, G Toniolatti; A Di Bernardo, E Gori; M Rizzo, L Ghiraldini (capt), I Fernandez-Rouyet; F Minto, V Bernabo; S Favaro, A Zanni, R Barbieri. Reps: G Maistri, A De Marchi, L Cittadini, A Pavanello, M Vosawai, M Filippucci, T Botes, L Morisi.

CONNACHT – G Duffy (capt); M Healy, D Poolman, B Murphy, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; A Browne, E McKeon, G Naoupu. Reps: A Flavin, R Ah You, JP Cooney, M Kearney, J Muldoon, P O'Donohoe, M Nikora, T O'Halloran.

REF – N Paterson (SRU)

Treviso v Connacht, Live, TG4, 7.30

Irish Independent