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Connacht Make Six Changes

Connacht Make Six Changes

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his starting line-up to take on Ulster in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 derby at Ravenhill (kick-off 5.35pm).

The selected side sees six changes to the team that started last weekend’s home defeat to the Cardiff Blues – two in the pack and four in the back-line.

Eoghan Grace will earn his first cap for Connacht when he lines out at openside flanker. The former Munster Academy Player of the Year played for Rockwell College and Shannon, as well as being part of Eric Elwood’s 2007 Grand Slam winning Ireland Under-20 team.

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He also lined out for the Ireland Sevens side in 2009 alongside current team-mate Brian Tuohy in their famous World Cup victory over Australia.

Meanwhile, Thomas Anderson returns to face his native province at blindside flanker. The 24-year-old Magherafelt-born back rower has featured in five of Connacht’s games so far this season, including their win over the Newport Gwent Dragons in the Sportsground.

There is a new half-back pairing of Paul O’Donohoe and Miah Nikora. O’Donohoe has played in all bar one of the westerners’ games this season and along with NIkora, who made his comeback from injury last weekend, will be making his first start of the league campaign.

David McSharry partners captain Gavin Duffy in a new-look centre partnership. McSharry earns his first full cap having impressed the management when he came off the replacements bench against Leinster.

Fetu’u Vainikolo and Tuohy line up on the wings, while the versatile Tiernan O’Halloran moves to full-back where he impressed for Ireland in the IRB Junior World Championship earlier this year.

CONNACHT (v Ulster): Tiernan O’Halloran; Fetu’u Vainikolo, Gavin Duffy (capt), David McSharry, Brian Tuohy; Miah Nikora, Paul O’Donohoe; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Thomas Anderson, Eoghan Grace, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Ronan Loughney, Dylan Rogers, David Gannon, John Muldoon, Frank Murphy, Niall O’Connor, Matthew Jarvis.