Wednesday 21 March 2018

Keane demanding big response from Connacht

Connacht head coach Kieran Keane Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Kieran Keane Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There can't have been too many times in the past when Connacht have gone into a game against Italian opposition as underdogs, but after being humbled by Zebre in their own back yard last weekend, the Westerners are up against it in Treviso.

They need a big response from their players but Treviso are in red-hot form and chasing their sixth win on the bounce.

Connacht are still trying to find their way under Kieran Keane but even still, losing at home to Zebre is unacceptable.

Keane can at least welcome back Tiernan O'Halloran, Jarrad Butler and Denis Buckley from injury.

The Kiwi will need the key trio to hit the ground running on their return if his side are to bounce back.

"We have a number of players coming back from injury which will be a big boost against Treviso," Keane said.

"They are on a great run of wins and I'm sure they will be targeting us, especially when they have been so competitive at home this season.

"The majority of the squad will travel on to South Africa, but we have put plans in place for replacements to join the squad after the game in Italy.

"These two games will really test the depth of our squad and we will need to be at our best if we want to win them."

The Six Nations period should have been when Connacht made ground on their rivals as they have had such little disruption in terms of international selection, yet it hasn't quite worked out like that.

Quinn Roux was preferred to Ultan Dillane by Joe Schmidt for Ireland's clash against Wales today, and the Kerry native will feel like he has a point to prove.

The same applies for Dillane's team-mates across the board this afternoon. Losing in consecutive weekends to Italian position will not sit well with the locals.

Verdict: Connacht

Benetton - L Sperandio; A Bronzini, T Iannone, L Morisi, M Ioane; M Banks, T Tebaldi; F Zani, T Baravalle, M Zanusso; M Lazzaroni, I Herbst; A Sgarbi (capt), M Barbini, W Douglas. Reps: H Faiva, R Brugnara, C Traore, M Fuser, N Manu, G Bronzini, M Zanon, M Tagicakibau.

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

REF - L Linton (SRU)

Irish Independent

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