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Connacht Make Three Changes For RDS Showdown

Connacht Make Three Changes For RDS Showdown

Connacht head coach Kieran Keane has made three changes to the team for their New Year’s Day showdown with Leinster at the RDS (kick-off 3.15pm), bringing Cian Kelleher, Tom McCartney and James Cannon into the starting XV.

Tom McCartney takes his place in the front row alongside Denis Coulson and Finlay Bealham. The pack that dominated against Ulster and contributed four tries, two from Ultan Dillane and one each from Eoghan Masterson and Jarrad Butler, sees one other change as James Cannon takes over from Quinn Roux in the second row.

Cian Kelleher rejoins a back-three that includes in-form winger Matt Healy and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran. Ireland international Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell continue their partnership in midfield, with Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion backing up as the starting half-backs.

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Connacht, who are currently fifth in Conference A, will take confidence from their record 44-16 victory over Ulster but will be fully aware of the challenge they face against a high-flying Leinster side, according to head coach Kieran Keane.

“It was great to get the interpro series off to a flying start against Ulster, and coming off two big wins in Europe, it was no more than the boys deserved. They are a great group and have been working really hard and we saw the results of that hard work with the performance they delivered against Ulster,” said Keane.

“We face another big challenge against Leinster. They are a top side and are really in form as we saw with their performance against Munster at Thomond Park. We will be focusing on ourselves and our game-plan and will try and implement it as best we can.

“We had a fantastic home crowd that really got behind us in our win last weekend, but the roles will be reversed on New Year’s Day. We will be the underdogs against Leinster and we will need to put in a big performance against them.”

CONNACHT (v Leinster): Tiernan O’Halloran; Cian Kelleher, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Naulia Dawai, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin, Niyi Adeolokun.