Sunday 19 November 2017

Connacht chasing bonus point

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

FOR a club known for the star-studded nature of their teamsheet, rarely has a team arrived with such an underwhelming line-up as the Ospreys do this evening (kick- off 7.0).

Although those scanning the teamsheets will be drawn to the presence of former All Blacks Marty Holah and Jerry Collins in the back-row, Sean Holley arrives in Galway with 16 players absent on international duty and nine out injured.

That they can even field a team is a testament to their vast resources.

Connacht will field a strong line-up and the Westerners may even be eyeing a bonus point -- a win would see them leapfrog the champions.

Eric Elwood's side haven't won a league match since September and are looking to end this winless run of four matches since beating Glasgow at Firhill. However, the nature of their success over Samoa can only have helped confidence.

With John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy and Brett Wilkinson all released by Ireland, Elwood is deprived of only Sean Cronin.

Ian Keatley makes way for Miah Nikora, while Muldoon, Jonny O'Connor and Mike McCarthy will look to target Ospreys out-half Matthew Morgan, who makes his first-team debut.

The Connacht back-row will do everything in their power to give the diminutive 18-year-old a debut to forget.

Eoin Griffin partners Keith Matthews in the centre, while Gavin Duffy makes his 100th appearance for the province from full-back.

Verdict: Connacht.

CONNACHT -- G Duffy; T Nathan, E Griffin, K Matthews, F Carr; M Nikora, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, D Murphy, J Hagan; M Swift, B Upton; M McCarthy, J O'Connor, J Muldoon (capt). Reps: R Loughney, B Fa'amausili, D Rogers, A Browne, E Taylor, C Willis, I Keatley, D Fanning.

OSPREYS -- G Owen; K Phillips, S Parker, A Beck, R Fussell; M Morgan, R Webb; D Jones, M Davies, C Mitchell; C McInerney, I Evans; J Tipuric, M Holah, J Collins (capt). Reps: S Baldwin, J Rees, C Griffiths, J Goode, J King, J Nutbrown, M Jarvis, B Davies.

REF -- P Allan (SRU).

Irish Independent

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