Friday 19 January 2018

Lam hoping for change of luck

Connacht's heah coach Pat Lam
Connacht's heah coach Pat Lam

John Fallon

It's a case of unlucky 13 for Connacht as Pat Lam has been forced into three changes to his injury-ravaged squad for the clash with Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground today (5.0pm).

Of the 13 players either injured or on international duty, the biggest loss is tighthead Rodney Ah You, who is replaced by Finlay Bealham because of a hamstring injury.

And with Nathan White away with Ireland there could be a first Connacht cap for U-20 international prop Conan O'Donnell. The 19-year-old Sligo man was one of the stand-out performers for Nigel Carolan's Irish side at the World Rugby U-20 Championship this summer and his impressive form has been rewarded with a call-up.

Connacht are boosted by the return of Kieran Marmion and he comes in for John Cooney, while Eoin McKeon replaces Eoghan Masterson at No 8.

Fionn Carr, who is on the bench today, touched down twice the last time Connacht got the better of Cardiff at home in the Pro12 back in September 2009 and coach Pat Lam wants his men to put that dismal record right.

"Every game is important, rather than who we are playing, we just know that these games are going to count at the end," Lam said. "Every game at home that we play, we have no excuses. We do our homework and then we come up with a game-plan."

Connacht have only won one of their last 11 games against Cardiff but Lam believes they can make it two wins from three in the current campaign.

Connacht - T O'Halloran; D Poolman, R Parata, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham; Q Roux, A Browne; J Muldoon (c), N Fox-Matamua, E McKeon. Reps: D Heffernan, JP Cooney, C O'Donnell, A Muldowney, G Naoupu, J Cooney, C Ronaldson, F Carr.

Cardiff - D Fish; A Summerhill, T Isaacs, G Evans, R Smith; R Patchell, T Knoyle; S Hobbs, K Dacey, C Mitchell, J Hoeata, L Reed, J Navidi, E Jenkins, J Turnbull. Reps: M Rees, T Davies, D Lewis, J Down, M Vosawai, L Jones, G Davies, G Smith.

REF - N Hennessy (WRU)

Irish Independent

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