Monday 19 February 2018

O'Halloran's return boosts Connacht bid to dethrone the Kings

Tiernan O'Halloran played in action for Ireland. Photo: PA
Tiernan O'Halloran played in action for Ireland. Photo: PA
David Kelly

David Kelly

New Connacht coach Kieran Keane endured testing conditions in Galway last weekend but the skies and opposition are set more fair this time around.

Despite the fiendishly difficult weather against Glasgow, Connacht made a slew of unforced errors which compounded an often fraught experience at scrum-time - the South Africans should not test them in this department.

"We worked hard on our scrum during the week after the Glasgow game," admitted Denis Buckley.

Tiernan O'Halloran's return after undergoing knee surgery is one of three changes made by Keane to the side that were downed 18-12 by Glasgow.

"Tiernan returned to full training in the past week and we are very happy with his progress so he starts at full back," explained Keane, for whom a meeting with the South Africans is not a novel experience.

"The Kings have a good few changes in personnel from their time in Super Rugby but I expect their style of play to remain the same.

"We are expecting a tough physical game and some exciting rugby on Saturday and our guys are going to have to be ready for that."

Inside centre Tom Farrell and flanker Sean O'Brien are also included in the starting XV with Eoin Griffin and Eoghan Masterson taking their places among the replacements.

Darragh Leader moves from full-back to the wing to accommodate O'Halloran's return as Cian Kelleher drops out. Kings' head coach Deon Davids, whose side have been in Ireland all week, has promoted scrum-half Godlen Masimla to the starting XV with Rudi van Rooyen named on the bench.

Verdict: Connacht

Connacht - T O'Halloran; D Leader, T Farrell, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham, U Dillane, J Cannon, S O'Brien, J Butler, J Muldoon.

Reps: D Heffernan, D Coulson, C Carey, Q Roux, E Masterson, C Blade, S Crosbie, E Griffin.

Southern Kings - M Banda; Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole; K Coleman, G Masimla; S Ferreira, M Willemse (capt), R de Klerk, J van Vuuren, D van Schalwkyk, K Majola, V Sekekete, A Ntsila.

Reps: S Coetzee, L Pupuma, M Dreyer/E Swanepoel, B de Wee, S Mdaka, R van Rooyen, O Zono, J Nel.

Ref - M Adamson (Scotland).

Connacht v Southern Kings, Live TG4, 7.35

Irish Independent

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