Monday 24 September 2018

Absence of Marmion and Dillane raises some eyebows

Kieran Marmion. Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran Marmion. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Edinburgh have been the success story of the Guinness PRO14 season thus far, and as they arrive in Galway this evening, they do so with plenty of momentum behind them.

Connacht on the other hand have lost two of their last three games and desperately need a win to reignite a late push to make the play-offs.

The Westerners have a lot of work to do over the coming weeks if they are to do so, and their task isn't helped by not having three of their Ireland players available.

Bundee Aki put in a huge shift in Ireland's Grand Slam success over the last few weeks, but supporters will perhaps have been surprised not to see Kieran Marmion or Ultan Dillane line out against the Scots.

The official line from Connacht is that all three are "rested after their involvement with Ireland's Grand Slam-winning squad".

Marmion came off the bench at Twickenham and played on the wing, but Dillane didn't feature at all throughout the campaign.

Connacht could do with having their front-line players all available, but they can at least call upon Quinn Roux who also featured in the Six Nations.

Return

Speaking of welcome returns, Eoin McKeon is back after four months out injured with a hamstring injury. Matt Healy, who became the Westerners' record try scorer after scoring twice in the defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, starts in the back three alongside Niyi Adeolokun and Tiernan O'Halloran.

Edinburgh continued their fine form when they upset Munster last weekend, and they will provide Connacht with a stiff test, as Nigel Carolan outlined.

"They made life really difficult for Munster last Friday night," the backs coach said. "They turned them over several times at the breakdown and that's uncharacteristic for Munster.

"You can see that there's a real bite to them, there's a real high level of fitness and physicality. They're a tough team.

"They very direct and confrontational and they're a tough team to break down. That's where our biggest focus has been this week, particularly around the breakdown."

Connacht will want to go into next weekend's Challenge Cup quarter-final against Gloucester with a big win, but they may not have it all their own way against an improving Edinburgh side.

Verdict: Edinburgh

Connacht - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, T Farrell, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; D Buckley, T McCartney (capt), F Bealham; G Thornbury, Q Roux, E McKeon, J Butler, S O'Brien. Reps: D Heffernan, D Coulson, D Robertson McCoy, J Cannon, E Masterson, J Mitchell, C Ronaldson, D Leader.

Edinburgh - B Kinghorn; D Fife, M Bennett, C Dean, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Fowles; D Marfo, N Cochrane, S Berghan; B Toolis, G Gilchrist (capt); M Bradbury, J Hardie, B Mata. Reps: C Fenton, J Lay, WP Nel, L Carmichael, C du Preez, S Kennedy, D Weir, P Burleigh.

Ref - G Clancy (IRFU)

  • Connacht v Edinburgh, Live, TG4, 7.35

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