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Elwood rallies troops for big finish

CONNACHT head into tomorrow's Pro12 clash with Aironi in the unfamiliar position of seeking a third win on the trot, but Eric Elwood's side have been hit by several injury concerns ahead of the Sportsground encounter.

Brett Wilkinson has been ruled out with a calf strain picked up in last weekend's win over Ulster in Galway and, after an impressive season, he needs a swift recovery to keep his name in the mix for Ireland's summer tour to New Zealand.

Ronan Loughney could switch over from tight-head to loose-head in Wilkinson's absence or Elwood could opt to start Denis Buckley, who did well off the bench against Ulster.

Adrian Flavin will undergo a late fitness test to assess his availability, with Ethienne Reynecke and Dermot Murphy the other hookers named in an extended squad yesterday.

Connacht are seeking a best-ever league finish of eighth place and will fancy their chances against the soon-to-be-disbanded Italians. The province are in 10th position, two points behind Treviso and the Dragons, and are banking on a bumper crowd to spur them on in their last home game of the season, with flanker Ray Ofisa expected to be fit to take a final bow at the Sportsground.

"With one more home game to go and a toughie away against Glasgow, there is still a lot to play for," said Elwood.

"After our win over Ulster, everybody is in a good place and, with Aironi coming here this weekend, it's very much game on for our last home game of the season."

Irish Independent