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Connacht Make Five Changes For Dragons Match

Connacht Make Five Changes For Dragons Match

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made five personnel changes to his team for the trip to play the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night (kick-off 7:15pm).

Bundee Aki returns to the starting line-up and partners Peter Robb in midfield. 25-year-old Stacey Ili will make his first GUINNESS PRO12 start on the left wing, while Monivea man Caolin Blade comes in at scrum half.
There are two changes up front as hooker Shane Delahunt, the scorer of Connacht’s only try against Leinster, is promoted from the bench and Eoin McKeon returns to the back row.
Academy prop Saba Meunargia has recovered from injury to be included among the replacements. If called upon, the 22-year-old will make his first PRO12 appearance, having featured twice in the European Challenge Cup.
Following injuries and international call-ups, James Connolly and Shane O’Leary have both been recalled to the bench, and Academy back Conor McKeon, who has recently transitioned from out-half to scrum half, makes his first appearance in a Connacht matchday squad this season.
Speaking ahead of the game, Pat Lam said: “It’s always tough for us going over to Rodney Parade. Even when we’ve been successful there, they were always hard-fought wins.

“The Dragons, under Kingsley Jones, have changed their mindset in terms of how they like to play the game and they certainly use the ball a lot more. It’s set up to be a good game of rugby but we have to remain focused on our own jobs.

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“Our mental preparation is vital, particularly in another short week where we are on the road for the third week in a row. It’s the last game before a two-week break in fixtures so, as a group, we are determined to right the wrongs from a disappointing performance (against Leinster) last time out.”

Tom McCartney, Denis Buckley, Ronan Loughney, Ivan Soroka, Conan O’Donnell, Ben Marshall, Sean O’Brien, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Eoghan Masterson, Rory Moloney, John Cooney, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy, Josh Rowland, Darragh Leader and Ciaran Gaffney remain on Connacht’s injury list, while Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Kieran Marmion are away with the Ireland squad in Chicago.
CONNACHT (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Stacey Ili; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; JP Cooney, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne, Eoin McKeon, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Saba Meunargia, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, James Connolly, Conor McKeon, Shane O’Leary, Cian Kelleher.