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European Challenge Cup Preview: Rugby Rovigo v Connacht

European Challenge Cup Preview: Rugby Rovigo v Connacht

Connacht will be hoping to bounce back after last weekend’s disappointing trip to Ulster. They are currently second in European Challenge Cup Pool 1, six points behind leaders London Irish.

EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP: POOL 1: Saturday, December 6

RUGBY ROVIGO v CONNACHT, Stadio Mario Battaglini, 3pm local time/2pm Irish time

Team News: Connacht coach Michael Bradley has made two changes to his side for Saturday’s European Challenge Cup Pool 1 clash with Rugby Rovigo at Stadio Mario Battaglini.

Danny Riordan comes into the back-line for the injured Mel Deane, while in the forwards Andrew Browne has been drafted in for Colm Rigney, who has also been ruled out through injury.

Riordan impressed last weekend for Buccaneers, scoring two tries in their AIB League Division One win over Dungannon.

In the injury-enforced absence of John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy will captain Connacht once again.

Duffy started at full-back in last Friday’s 53-13 Magners League defeat to Ulster but has been moved to outside centre for the trip to Rovigo, with Fionn Carr reverting to full-back.

As well as Deane and Muldoon, Connacht have Liam Bibo (hamstring), Andy Dunne (knee), Joe Merrigan (knee), Conor Muldoon (hamstring), Colm Rigney (knee), Mike Roberts (calf) and Niva Ta’auso (arm) on a lengthy injury list.

RUGBY ROVIGO: Stefan Basson; Pablo Calanchini, Juan Pablo Sanchez, Norman di Maura, Andrea Bacchetti; German Bustos, Juan Cruz Legora; Bruno Fortuna, Valerio Vicere, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Tomasso Reato, Marco Barion, Younes Anouer, Johan Britz, Jacobus Immelman.

Replacements: Andrea de Marchi, Luke Mahoney, Daniele Tumiati, Niccolo Badocchi, Stefano Canale, Stefano Ambrosio, Filippo Aretusini.

CONNACHT: Fionn Carr; Troy Nathan, Gavin Duffy (capt), Keith Matthews, Danny Riordan; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Robbie Morris, Andrew Browne, Andrew Farley, Michael McCarthy, Johnny O’Connor, Ray Ofisa.

Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Michael Swift, David Gannon, Kieran Campbell, Tim Donnelly, John Hearty.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Rugby Rovigo to win: 7/2; Draw: 25/1; Connacht to win: 1/6

Pre-Match Quotes: Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “It is an important game and we need a big 80-minute performance and a victory.

“They are at home and will be looking for a big performance and that is something we need to deal with and come away with the win.”

European Challenge Cup Top Scorers – Current Season: Rugby Rovigo: Tries: Pablo Calanchini, Luke Mahoney, Jacobus Immelman 1 each; Points: Stefan Basson 12; Connacht: Tries: John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, Danny Riordan, Fionn Carr 1 each; Points: Ian Keatley 20

Current Form – Rugby Rovigo – (Italian Super 10): Lost 18-10 away to Petrarca Padova; Won 46-10 at home to Calvisano; Lost 20-16 away to Gran Parma; Won 36-16 at home to Capitolina; (European Challenge Cup): Lost 78-3 away to London Irish; Won 24-11 at home to Dax; (Italian Super 10): Won 30-20 away to Overmach Parma; Won 24-23 at home to Arix Viadana; Lost 13-10 at home to Benetton Treviso

Connacht – (Magners League): Lost 16-3 at home to the Ospreys; Lost 45-3 away to the Scarlets; Won 15-8 at home to Glasgow Warriors; Lost 58-0 away to Cardiff Blues; Won 19-18 at home to Leinster; (European Challenge Cup): Won 30-12 away to Dax; Lost 27-10 at home to London Irish; (Magners League): Lost 27-14 at home to Edinburgh; (Friendly): Won 27-11 at home to Portugal; (Magners League): Lost 53-13 away to Ulster

Previous European Meetings: 1

Sunday, October 11, 1998 – Pool 1 – Rugby Rovigo 20 Connacht 21, Stadio Mario Battaglini

European Challenge Cup Records:

Rugby Rovigo –

2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool 1

Connacht –
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2005/06: Reached the quarter-finals
2004/05: Reached the semi-finals
2003/04: Reached the semi-finals
2002/03: Reached the quarter-finals
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool 3

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Connacht to win by less than 7 points