Thursday 14 December 2017

Elwood looking for right blend

THIS season is being heralded as a brave new dawn for Connacht, but before they go into the Heineken Cup, Eric Elwood must gel his team together after a summer of change at the province, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.

Out have gone Fionn Carr, Jamie Hagan, Ian Keatley and Sean Cronin and now stalwarts like John Muldoon and new skipper Gavin Duffy must get used to new boys like Welsh pivot Matt Jarvis, former Ulster flyer Mark McCrea and powerhouse George Naoupu.

Today's opponents Treviso have lost their World Cup contingent, but their imports will provide a strong base, with Brendan Williams and Willem de Waal lending their experience. The Italian club adapted well to the competition last year and did the double over Connacht.

Elwood's men might fancy their chances, but they'll need to hit the ground running in Italy. Their bench looks strong, but it might take time for the westerners to click.

Verdict: Home win

TREVISO -- L Nitoglia; M Sepe, K Burton, A Pratichetti, B Williams; W De Waal, A Chillon; M Rizzo, F Sbaraglini, A Allori; A Pavanello (capt), V Bernabo; M Filippucci, F Minto, M Vosawai. Reps: D Vidal, M Muccignat, P Di Santo, G Padro, B Vermaak, S Picone, A Di Bernardo, B de Jager.

CONNACHT -- G Duffy (capt); M McCrea, E Griffin, H Fa'afili, T O'Halloran; M Jarvis, F Murphy; R Loughney, A Flavin, R Ah You; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, R Ofisa, G Naoupu. Reps: E Reynecke, D Buckley, D Rogers, TJ Anderson, J O'Connor, P O'Donohoe, N O'Connor, B Tuohy.

REF -- D Phillips (IRFU).

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