After falling to two successive defeats and going tryless in both games, Connacht are crying out for a win against Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground to kickstart their Magners League challenge.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 19
CONNACHT v GLASGOW WARRIORS, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
Team News: Head coach Michael Bradley has made six changes to his side for Connacht’s must-win Magners League clash with Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground.
Robbie Morris, John Hearty, Andy Dunne and Keith Matthews all came through fitness tests successfully on Thursday morning to give Bradley a big boost heading into Friday’s match.
In the backs, Liam Bibo returns on the right wing with Hearty taking his place on the left wing and Frank Murphy starting at scrum half.
Up front, Robbie Morris starts at tighthead prop alongside Sean Cronin with Colm Rigney starting at number 8.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors coach Sean Lineen has branded Friday’s showdown with Connacht a ‘can-win’ as he targets the Warriors’ second away victory of the season.
“The Connacht game isn’t a ‘must win’, it’s a ‘can win’,” he said, prior to the squad’s departure for Galway.
“They beat us last year over there in stormy conditions and they’ll be hurting after a heavy defeat to the Scarlets last week.
“Connacht will be targeting this as a win but so will we.”
Lineen has made four changes to the team that lost to the Ospreys last Friday with Opeta Palepoi replacing the injured Tim Barker (back) in the second row and Stevie Swindall coming in for Kelly Brown at blindside flanker.
As a result, Brown moves to number 8 and Johnnie Beattie drops to the replacements bench.
In the backs, Max Evans has recovered from a dead leg to replace Andrew Henderson. Hefin O’Hare takes his place on the right wing ahead of Lome Fa’atau.
CONNACHT: Fionn Carr; Liam Bibo, Gavin Duffy, Keith Matthews, John Hearty; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Robbie Morris, Michael McCarthy, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon (capt), Ray Ofisa, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor, Kieran Campbell, Andy Dunne, Mel Deane.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Hefin O’Hare, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans; Dan Parks, Mark McMillan; Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Opeta Palepoi, Alastair Kellock (capt), Stevie Swindall, John Barclay, Kelly Brown.
Replacements: Eric Milligan, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Johnnie Beattie, Andrew Henderson, Colin Gregor, Ruaridh Jackson.
Referee: David Bodilly (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Mark Hermin, Dermot Moloney (both Ireland)
Say What: Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “There is no hiding from the fact that we got well beaten by the Scarlets. We stressed, at 12-3 down at half-time, how they would look to expand their offload and how vital it was for us to get our tackles in every time.
“Unfortunately we did not do that and a few wayward kicks also helped them and they capitalised.
“Teams like the Scarlets will punish you every time and they ran away with it. We just did not have the answer to them.
“This Friday’s match is one we would have targeted and Glasgow would be aware of that.
“Hopefully, we can get our first points of the season in front of our own supporters.”
Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors captain) – “Our main aim has been to become more consistent and hopefully last week (against the Ospreys) was a big wake-up call for us.
“Our focus is perfect. We don’t lose focus just because we’ve won the week before, but it’s very difficult to put your finger on why it is ? we just know we’re responsible for backing-up games.
“I was most upset because first and foremost I want to play well and lead by example (as captain), not taking backward steps, and there were things I could have done better last week and those were my first thoughts after watching the video.
“Sean (Lineen) and Shade (Munro) are there to help get players ready, for it is the individual’s responsibility to get themselves ready physically and mentally for every game and it’s the same this week.
“We have to front up and get go-forward ball for our backs, and take it from there.”
Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Connacht: Ian Keatley 6; Glasgow Warriors: Dan Parks 20; Tries: Connacht: -; Glasgow Warriors: Thom Evans 2.
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, November 4, 2005 – Glasgow Warriors 30 Connacht 15, Hughenden
Friday, May 26, 2006 – Connacht 33 Glasgow Warriors 7, The Sportsground
Friday, November 3, 2006 – Glasgow Warriors 39 Connacht 34, Hughenden
Friday, April 13, 2007 – Connacht 23 Glasgow Warriors 40, The Sportsground
Friday, October 5, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 16 Connacht 15, Firhill Arena
Friday, November 30, 2007 – Connacht 10 Glasgow Warriors 6, The Sportsground
– Connacht have slipped to successive Magners League defeats. Their only home win since January has been a 24-20 triumph over the Ospreys on May 9
– Glasgow Warriors’ six-match winning run in the Magners League came to a halt at home to Ospreys last Friday night
– However the Warriors are on a hot streak away from home with a Scottish record of four successive away league victories
– Each side won its respective home game when they met in last season’s Magners League, but the Warriors have won in Galway twice before, in 2001 and 2007