Friday 19 January 2018

Connacht's Ireland contingent return with bonus-point victory at the top of the agenda

Robbie Henshaw in training at the Sportsground. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Robbie Henshaw in training at the Sportsground. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Connacht will need and expect to gain a winning bonus-point victory over Russian side Enisei-STM in the final pool game of the European Challenge Cup at the Sportsground tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) and has picked a strong team to do just that.

All four Connacht players named in the Ireland 6 Nations squad this week are included. Nathan White returns to join Ultan Dillane in the pack while Robbie Henshaw and Kieran Marmion return from injury to take their place in an otherwise unchanged backline.

There is a new front row with the introduction of local players Denis Buckley and Dave Heffernan alongside White while Eoghan Masterson, named at Number 8, allows captain John Muldoon return to blindside flanker.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, head coach Pat Lam said: “We know we will need a clinical and focussed performance tomorrow that ensures we take our chances and scores. Enisei will be coming here with confidence following their defeats of both Brive and Newcastle in our pool. They are a big, physical side and can do some damage if they are given a chance. But it’s up to us to take control of this game from the start.

“It’s great to have some guys back from injury for what is a crucial game for us in terms of our European ambitions. We are really excited to be back at the Sportsground tomorrow and we are determined to give our loyal supporters something to cheer about.”

Connacht: (15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Danie Poolman, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, AJ MacGinty, Kieran Marmion; (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (c), James Connolly, Eoghan Masterson.

Replacements: (16-23) Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Rodney Ah You, George Naoupu, Sean O'Brien, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Rory Parata.

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