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Three Changes For Connacht’s Clash With Dragons

Three Changes For Connacht’s Clash With Dragons

Prop Matthew Burke is pictured with Connacht captain Jarrad Butler during a training session in Galway earlier this week ©INPHO/James Crombie

Matthew Burke, Paul Boyle and Ben O’Donnell have been drafted into the Connacht team for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship meeting with the Dragons at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.15pm).

It is a first appearance of the season for O’Donnell, who forms an exciting back three with fellow Australian Mack Hansen and experienced full-back Tiernan O’Halloran.

The remaining backs are unchanged for the third straight game, with Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion pulling the string at half-back, and Tom Farrell and Tom Daly, both try scorers against Vodacom Bulls, pairing up again in the centre.

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Ballinrobe man Matthew Burke comes into the front row where he combines with Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, while locks Oisin Dowling and Ultan Dillane also start together for the third week running.

Andy Friend’s selected side is completed by flankers Cian Prendergast and captain Jarrad Butler, with Boyle, who had a good impact off the bench in round two, packing down at number 8.

Head coach Friend commented: “Last week was very pleasing not just because of the result, but the performance gave everyone the confidence that we’re heading in the right direction.

“We know more than anyone that we now need to replicate that level consistently.

“Dragons are a tough team to play against and showed that against Leinster last week, so we’ll need to be at the top of our game.”

CONNACHT (v Dragons): Tiernan O’Halloran; Ben O’Donnell, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Oisin Dowling, Ultan Dillane, Cian Prendergast, Jarrad Butler (capt), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Leva Fifita, Conor Oliver, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Sam Arnold.