Beaten in Europe last weekend, Connacht are hoping to regroup quickly and beat Edinburgh on Friday for their third straight home Magners League win. Should they do so, the westerners will equal their best home run in the competition which was set in the 2005/06 season.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 24
CONNACHT v EDINBURGH, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
Team News: Head coach Michael Bradley has made four changes to his Connacht side ahead of their Magners League showdown with Edinburgh at the Sportsground on Friday night.
Mel Deane has recovered from a hamstring injury to take the inside centre berth beside Gavin Duffy, who has been included in Ireland’s extended squad for the autumn internationals.
In the forwards there are two changes in the front row with John Lyne starting at loosehead prop alongside Sean Cronin at hooker, while in the back row Colm Rigney comes in at number 8.
Second row David Gannon has been named on the replacements bench for the first time this season having recovered from a calf injury which had kept him out of contention since the new season began.
Previewing the game, Bradley said: “The Edinburgh game is huge for us. We want to go into the break for the autumn internationals on a winning note.
“We were disappointed we did not take our chances against London Irish but we need to bounce back straight away.
“The crowd were superb against London Irish and I hope they come out in force this Friday as we need every assistanceas we try to beat Edinburgh.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Kelly will become the latest Edinburgh player to make his 100th appearance in the black and red should he feature against Connacht on Friday.
Scotland flanker Ross Rennie will also travel with the Edinburgh squad to Galway. He has not played a competitive match for seven months, since sustaining a serious knee injury against Connacht last March.
As a result of a few injury concerns, Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson has decided to take 11 replacements to Connacht, including Rennie.
Matt Mustchin and Hugo Southwell, who both missed last Saturday’s Heineken Cup win at Castres, are also named amongst the list of potential replacements while the starting line-up remains unchanged from last weekend.
CONNACHT: Fionn Carr; Aidan Wynne, Gavin Duffy, Mel Deane, John Hearty; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; John Lyne, Sean Cronin, Robbie Morris, Michael Swift, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon (capt), Johnny O’Connor, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Andrew Browne, David Gannon, Kieran Campbell, Andy Dunne, Troy Nathan.
EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Jim Hamilton, Scott Newlands, Alan MacDonald, Allister Hogg.
Replacements (from): Andrew Kelly, Gavin Kerr, Kyle Traynor, Matt Mustchin, Ben Gissing, Simon Cross, Ross Rennie, Greig Laidlaw, David Blair, Hugo Southwell, John Houston.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Peter Roche (both Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Connacht to win: 11/8; Draw: 18/1; Edinburgh to win: 4/7
Say What: Gavin Duffy (Connacht) – “This is a huge game for us and that has to be the focus of attention just now (ahead of the Ireland squad selection).
“In many ways it is bigger than the match against London Irish in the Challenge Cup last weekend and it would be great to go into the break (for the autumn internationals) on the back of another win.
“It is important for us that we follow our win over Leinster by putting more pressure on Ulster and Edinburgh and the other teams around us.”
Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “This is the last game before the autumn international break and we want to go in with some real confidence.
“I think Connacht are a really good side, they’re highly underrated. They have some quality players and having turned over Glasgow and turned over Leinster, they’ll be confident that they can make it three-in-a-row.
“But we feel we can build on the win in Castres. The lads know they can really take come confidence. They deserved to be picked again in the same team this week.
“Everybody’s working hard and focused to achieve the best that they can. It’s a young squad but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the concentration and attitude for every play we have.”
Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Connacht: Ian Keatley 22; Edinburgh: Chris Paterson 33; Tries: Connacht: Fionn Carr, Brett Wilkinson, Mike McCarthy 1 each; Edinburgh: Mark Robertson 2.
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, September 10, 2005 – Edinburgh 34 Connacht 3, Murrayfield
Friday, May 5, 2006 – Connacht 16 Edinburgh 22, The Sportsground
Friday, September 22, 2006 – Connacht 22 Edinburgh 22, The Sportsground
Friday, January 26, 2007 – Edinburgh 49 Connacht 31, Murrayfield
Friday, October 26, 2007 – Connacht 14 Edinburgh 14, The Sportsground
Friday, March 21, 2008 – Edinburgh 38 Connacht 8, Murrayfield
– Connacht have won three of their last five games in all competitions, including their 19-18 defeat of reigning Magners League champions Leinster in the last round
– Connacht are going for a third straight Magners League win at the Sportsground, to equal their best home run set in the 2005/06 season. Just one Scottish side has won in Galway since May 2006 (Glasgow Warriors 40-23 in April 2007)
– Edinburgh’s 13-6 victory in Castres in the Heineken Cup ended their three-match losing run in all competitions. In the Magners League, Andy Robinson’s men have won just one of their last five encounters – beating the Scarlets 32-15 at Murrayfield on September 19
– Edinburgh have lost their last four games against Irish opposition and have not won in Galway since May 2006
– Connacht’s last win over Edinburgh was a 16-13 success at Murrayfield on March 4, 2005