Connacht are back at the Sportsground after three away dates in the Magners League. They have not beaten tonight’s visitors Edinburgh since March 2005 but with out-half Tim Donnelly in fine kicking form, the westerners will be confident of securing a much-needed win.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 26
CONNACHT v EDINBURGH, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
Team News: Connacht will have strength in depth for tonight’s Magners League encounter with Edinburgh as both lock and captain Andrew Farley and hooker Adrian Flavin have recovered from their respective injuries to be named on the bench.
Coach Michael Bradley has selected an unchanged team for the must-win tie. The game at the Sportsground will see Connacht field the same side which started against the Cardiff Blues two weeks ago, with Farley and Flavin two new additions amongst the replacements.
Having spent the previous three rounds of the competition on the road, this is Connacht’s first match back at the Sportsground since their opening day victory over the Dragons and with the corresponding fixture last season having produced a 22-22 draw, it is sure to be another entertaining fixture.
Meanwhile, David Blair is set to make his Edinburgh debut at out-half, playing alongside his elder brother, Scotland scrum half Mike, for the first time ever.
Scottish international Allister Hogg returns to captain the side at blindside flanker while Edinburgh field an all-Scotland international front row with new signing Ross Ford joining props Gavin Kerr and Craig Smith.
Scotland’s Hugo Southwell, at full-back, and winger Simon Webster also return to the visitors’ back-three.
Connacht: Gavin Duffy; Ofisa Treviranus, Mel Deane, Aidan Wynne, Keith Matthews; Tim Donnelly, Conor McPhillips; Brett Wilkinson, John Fogarty, Robbie Morris, Michael Swift, David Gannon, Ray Ofisa, Johnny O’Connor, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Brian McGovern, Andrew Farley, Michael McCarthy, Conor O’Loughlin, Peter Durcan, Darren Yapp.
Edinburgh: Hugo Southwell; Andrew Turnbull, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster; David Blair, Mike Blair; Gavin Kerr, Ross Ford, Craig Smith, Craig Hamilton, Ben Gissing, Allister Hogg (capt), Ross Rennie, Simon Cross.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Augusto Allori, Matt Mustchin, Roland Reid, Ben Meyer, Alistair Warnock, John Houston.
Referee: Hugh Watkins (Wales)
Coach Speak: Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “We understand that Edinburgh will have most if not all their internationals back so this will be a big test for us.
“Two weeks ago we played Cardiff, who had a number of their key players back. We understand that in that game against Cardiff we were frustrated because we played very well.
“We’ve looked at the Cardiff game and Glasgow game before that and we realise again that if we take care of our own business, irrespective of who we play, we can win these matches.”
Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “It is great to have the international players back and to have whole squad integrated into what we are trying to achieve. The short term goal is to win the game at Connacht.
But Connacht are a tough side. I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve been playing this year. They’ve got experienced players in their line-up and playing any team away from home is always a tough ask.
“But if we want put ourselves up there in terms of how we want to perform and in order to do well in this league, then we are going to have to win our away games.”
Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Connacht: Tim Donnelly 49; Edinburgh: Phil Godman 21; Tries: Connacht: Robbie Morris, John Fogarty, Conor O’Loughlin 1 each; Edinburgh: Andrew Turnbull 2.
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
August 24, 2001: Connacht 21 Edinburgh 30, The Sportsground
September 6, 2003: Connacht 11 Edinburgh 3, The Sportsground
February 13, 2004: Edinburgh 17 Connacht 32, Meadowbank
October 16, 2004: Connacht 24 Edinburgh 35, The Sportsground
March 4, 2005: Edinburgh 13 Connacht 16, Murrayfield
September 10, 2005: Edinburgh 34 Connacht 3, Murrayfield
May 5, 2006: Connacht 16 Edinburgh 22, The Sportsground
September 22, 2006: Connacht 22 Edinburgh 22, The Sportsground
January 26, 2007: Edinburgh 49 Connacht 31, Murrayfield
– Connacht’s only win since March was a 22-7 success over the Newport Gwent Dragons at the Sportsground on September 21
– Connacht have won just one of their last six encounters with Scottish opponents – a 20-17 win over the Borders in Galway on March 2 last
– Edinburgh have been victorious just once since April – a 24-10 victory over Ulster at Murrayfield on September 28
– Edinburgh’s last win in Ireland was a 21-10 triumph over Munster in Limerick on October 13, 2006, while Connacht last beat Edinburgh on March 4, 2005 at Murrayfield
CONNACHT MATCH REPORTS:
October 12 – Cardiff Blues 30 Connacht 16
October 5 – Glasgow Warriors 16 Connacht 15
September 28 – Llanelli Scarlets 34 Connacht 11
September 21 – Connacht 22 Newport Gwent Dragons 7