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Marmion On The Bench For Connacht’s Clash With Cheetahs

Marmion On The Bench For Connacht’s Clash With Cheetahs

Sidelined since November, Ireland international Kieran Marmion is pictured training with the Connacht squad in Galway earlier this week ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ultan Dillane, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell have all been named in the Connacht team for Saturday’s vital GUINNESS PRO14 match against the Toyota Cheetahs at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.30pm). Kieran Marmion also returns from an ankle injury to feature on the bench.

Captain Jarrad Butler leads the province from number 8 again, supported by flankers Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a in the back row. Dillane, who impressed as a replacement in the closing stages against Scotland last Saturday, combines with James Cannon in the engine room, while front rowers Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham complete the pack.

Behind the scrum, Carty and Blade renew their half-back partnership with Farrell, who was also part of Ireland’s squad for the first two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations, lines out with Tom Daly in midfield. There is a first start for loan signing Stephen Fitzgerald on the left wing, with Cian Kelleher on the right and Darragh Leader stationed at full-back.

Having beaten the Cheetahs 21-17 in Bloemfontein before Christmas, Connacht head coach Andy Friend is under no illusions as to the challenge his side face to complete a season’s double over their Conference A rivals. The westerners are currently fourth in the table, level on 38 points with the Ospreys and two points above the sixth-placed Cheetahs.

“Since we played the Cheetahs earlier in the season they have been improving steadily and have the results to show for it,” admitted Friend. “They are real contenders in the conference now, so we know the importance of this game in the context of the overall season.

“They are a really hard team to play against and even trying to review them can be difficult. They seem to play so off the cuff that it can be difficult to predict what they are going to do next.  We know the threat they pose in attack so we will face a huge challenge this weekend.”

CONNACHT (v Toyota Cheetahs): Darragh Leader; Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (capt).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cillian Gallagher, Paul Boyle, Kieran Marmion, Conor Fitzgerald, Kyle Godwin.