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Connacht Make Three Changes For Leinster Clash

Connacht Make Three Changes For Leinster Clash

24-year-old Dubliner Oisin Dowling is pictured in action for Connacht against the Ospreys last week ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Connacht have made three changes to their starting XV for Friday’s United Rugby Championship derby showdown with Leinster at the RDS (kick-off 7.45pm).

Having all come off the bench last week, Oisin Dowling, Eoghan Masterson and Peter Robb are named to start in the second row, at blindside flanker and inside centre respectively.

The rest of the team is the same that ran in seven tries against the Ospreys, meaning Robb is partnered by Sam Arnold with a back-three of Mack Hansen, Alex Wootton and full-back Oran McNulty, who scored his first senior try against the Welshmen.

Captain Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion continue as the westerners’ starting half-backs, while Ireland star Bundee Aki remains absent in midfield due to a knee injury.

The front row of Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham is unchanged for the fifth straight game, while Ultan Dillane packs down with Dowling in the engine room.

Masterson’s inclusion means Jarrad Butler reverts to the number 8 role, while Skerries man Conor Oliver completes the line-up at openside flanker.

Connacht’s replacements bench include Cian Prendergast and Tom Farrell who both return to the matchday 23 having recovered from their respective injuries.

Head coach Andy Friend commented: “Last week was pleasing not just to pick up five points but to continue our recent level of performances, even with a substantial break in the middle.

“The challenge for all of us now is to raise our game even more, away to one of the best sides in Europe.

“We’ll take confidence from our win at the RDS last January, and our travelling supporters will be a big help as always. This game will tell a lot about where we are right now so we’re really looking forward to it.”

CONNACHT (v Leinster): Oran McNulty; Alex Wootton, Sam Arnold, Peter Robb, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Oisin Dowling, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Leva Fifita, Cian Prendergast, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Farrell.