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Ton-Up For Bealham As Connacht Aim For Eighth Straight Home Win

Ton-Up For Bealham As Connacht Aim For Eighth Straight Home Win

Prop Finlay Bealham is set to make his 100th appearance for Connacht when they host Zebre at the Sportsground on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm). 

Kieran Keane’s men, who are currently fifth in Conference A of the GUINNESS PRO14, are aiming to make it eight home wins in-a-row in all competitions in a run that stretches back to September. 

Finlay Bealham is one of four changes to Connacht’s starting XV from the side that beat the Ospreys last week. With Tiernan O’Halloran sidelined with a hamstring injury, Darragh Leader comes in at full-back to join a back-three that includes wingers Cian Kelleher and Matt Healy.

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Sean O’Brien’s return from to full fitness is a further boost as he starts at number 8 after picking up a shoulder injury in the win over the Southern Kings in September. O’Brien features in the back row with openside Naulia Dawai and blindside Eoghan Masterson who captains the side. 

The only other change is the inclusion of lock Gavin Thornbury who came on as a replacement a week ago. A strong bench includes returning Ireland internationals Kieran Marmion and Quinn Roux and regular captain John Muldoon, as well as prop Conor Carey who continues his record of being named in every matchday squad for Connacht so far this season. 

Bealham is looking forward to leading the team out in front of a packed Sportsground, saying: “To be in that bracket of players that have reached the 100 appearance milestone is something I’m really honoured to be a part of.

“From my family’s perspective, they’re really proud. To walk out there for the hundredth time in front of a Sportsground crowd in the great atmosphere they always create is something I’m really looking forward to.”

CONNACHT (v Zebre): Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Craig Ronaldson, Caolin Blade; Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Naulia Dawai, Sean O’Brien (capt).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, John Muldoon, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Pita Ahki.