Thursday 14 December 2017

Elwood urges Connacht to atone for Aironi defeat

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After suffering the ignominy of being the first team to lose to Italian newcomers Aironi last weekend, Eric Elwood is keen to see his Connacht side get back on track at home to Edinburgh tonight.

The westerners have not lost at home in 2011, winning four Magners League and two Challenge Cup matches at the Sportsground; that has helped them climb to eighth in the table, a point ahead of tonight's opponents.

"We know we need a much better performance than we produced in Italy," Elwood said. "That was just not good enough. We have a chance of our highest finish in the Magners League and, last week in Italy aside, have been playing well and chalking up results."

Connacht are still short on out-half cover -- utility back Troy Nathan is acting as cover for Ian Keatley, with Miah Nikora injured.

After featuring from the bench late on last week, John Muldoon is held in reserve again for Connacht's penultimate home match of the season. They face Cardiff Blues in a fortnight, before concluding their campaign with tricky trips to Ulster and Munster.

"We want to finish our home games with wins and continue our run of home form," added Elwood.

"That will require a very good performance against Edinburgh, but I think we will see that response from the lads after the disappointment of last weekend."

Centre Keith Matthews will become the latest to win his 100th cap for the province tonight.

Matthews, who replaces the injured Niva Ta'auso, is one of three changes to the side, with Bernie Upton and Ronan Loughney replacing Michael Swift and Brett Wilkinson.

Wilkinson will take his place in the replacements, but lock Swift looks likely to miss the remainder of the season after breaking his hand in the Aironi defeat.

Hooker Adrian Flavin should also win his 100th cap off the bench.

With Edinburgh in a state of flux as they await the appointment of a head coach and with a dismal away record of just one win in 19 trips, Connacht can prevail.

Verdict: Connacht

Connacht -- G Duffy; B Tuohy, T Nathan, K Matthews, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; R Loughney, S Cronin, J Hagan; M McCarthy, B Upton; A Browne, J O'Connor, R Ofisa. Reps: A Flavin, B Wilkinson, R Ah You, M McComish, J Muldoon, M Dolan, E Griffin, S Monahan.

Edinburgh -- J Thompson; S Webster, B Cairns, J King, T Visser; G Laidlaw, M Blair; K Traynor, A Kelly, G Cross; S MacLeod, E Lozada; F McKenzie, S Newlands, D Denton. Reps: A Walker, L Niven, R Hislop, S Turnbull, R Grant, D Blair, N De Luca, L Jones.

Ref -- C Damasco (FIR).

Connacht v Edinburgh,

Live, TG4, 7.45

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