Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lam confident despite being forced to make changes

Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Away from the bright lights of the Champions Cup, Connacht head to Parma (2.30) looking to keep alive their hopes of getting back amongst Europe's elite next season.

Pat Lam's side couldn't have asked for a better game to do so as Zebre kept up their appalling record when Munster hammered them on their own turf last weekend.

The hapless Italian side continue to offer nothing to the Guinness PRO12 and the sooner a solution is put in place the better as in their current state, they are offering little or no challenge every week.

Connacht, however, have their own problems, with Lam being forced into making five changes from the team that were beaten in Glasgow last week.

Kieran Marmion misses out as his game-time is managed while bizarrely so too does Tiernan O'Halloran who, despite being in Carton House throughout the Six Nations, didn't play a single minute in the tournament.

The full-back's absence paves the way for Ireland Sevens player Josh Rowland to make his first start for Connacht.

Eoin Griffin (chest) is in line to make his first appearance since September.

"We have had to make a few changes this week due to unfortunate niggles picked up in training," Lam said.

"But we're going over to Parma with a clear game-plan. We are fully focused on putting in a performance against Zebre that will get us the points on offer."

Judging by what we have seen this season, Connacht should do just that but they might not have it as easy as Munster did last weekend. Verdict: Connacht

Zebre - D Berryman; K van Zyl, G Bisegni, T Boni, L Greeff; C Canna, M Violi; A Lovotti, R D'Alpice, D Chistolini; G Koegelenberg, G Biagi (capt); J Furno, D Minnie, F Ruzza. Reps: S Tobias, A De Marchi, P Ceccarelli, V Bernabo, O Fabiani, G Palazzani, M Pratichetti, E Padovani.

Connacht - J Rowland; D Poolman, T Farrell, B Aki, S Ili; J Carty, J Cooney; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham; Q Roux, A Browne; S O'Brien, E McKeon, J Muldoon (capt). Reps: D Heffernan, I Soroka, D Robertson-McCoy, J Cannon, E Masterson, C Blade, C Ronaldson, E Griffin.

Ref - M Adamson (SRU)

Irish Independent

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