Thursday 22 March 2018

Ronaldson returns for revamped Eagles

Craig Ronaldson of the Connacht Eagles in action against Glasgow Warriors
Craig Ronaldson of the Connacht Eagles in action against Glasgow Warriors

Neither Connacht Eagles nor Llanelli can qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition as both sides have lost three games each.

With that in mind, Nigel Carolan has made five changes from the Eagles team that was heavily defeated away to Rotherham.

The 2012 AIL Player of the Year, Craig Ronaldson, makes his return from a hamstring injury. The 23-year-old former Lansdowne captain played in 12 senior games before Christmas between the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup and his return today at fly-half will give the Eagles a huge boost.

Ronaldson is partnered at half-back by the vastly experienced Frank Murphy, who skippers the side.

Academy backs Steve Macauley and Rory Parata have both been promoted from the bench, while the pack has also been handed a significant boost with the inclusion of senior lock Aly Muldowney.

Danny Qualter partners Muldowney in the second-row and Galway-born Aaron Conneely has been named at openside flanker.

Llanelli come into today's game on the back of a seven-try win over Bedford and, despite the fact that the Eagles are undefeated at home in this season's campaign, the Welsh side will arrive in Galway full of confidence having put 76 points on them back in October.

Carolan will be looking for a response from his team after last week's heavy defeat.

Verdict: Llanelli

Connacht Eagles -- S Layden; D Panter, R Parata, C Finn, S Macauley; C Ronaldson, F Murphy (capt); R Loughney, D Heffernan, JP Cooney; D Qualter, A Muldowney; S O'Brien, A Conneely, E Masterson. Reps: J Rael, F Bealham, A McCloskey, R Moloney, C Blade, T Leader, B Murphy.

Llanelli -- S Evans; A Warren, I Evans, S Hughes, K Evans; J Lewis, C Lloydl; W Jones, D Harris, H Pungea; C Jones, L Jones; L Rawlins, C Price, S Leach, Reps: G Thomas, R Elias, B Leung, N White, J Evans, Dan Jones, Dion Jones.

Irish Independent

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