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Connacht Make Five Changes For Visit Of Leinster

Connacht Make Five Changes For Visit Of Leinster

Offaly man Peter Dooley is pictured in possession during Connacht's derby win over Munster in Galway last weekend ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

There are five changes to the Connacht team for Friday’s eagerly-awaited BKT United Rugby Championship derby showdown with Leinster at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.35pm).

Four of the alterations come in the pack where Peter Dooley, Niall Murray, Josh Murphy and Paul Boyle all come into the side, while there is also a first start of the season for 23-year-old scrum half Colm Reilly.

Dooley joins Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham in the front row, and Gavin Thornbury completes the tight five. Young New Zealander Shamus Hurley-Langton moves to openside flanker with Murphy and Boyle the other back row starters.

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The rest of the squad is unchanged from last week’s 20-11 victory over Munster, meaning Jack Carty, David Hawkshaw and Conor Fitzgerald feature again at out-half, inside centre and full-back respectively. Byron Ralston, Mack Hansen and John Porch complete the line-up.

The westerners have kept to a six-two split on the bench, their replacement options including the fit-again Caolin Blade and 22-year-old Academy graduate Ciaran Booth.

Looking forward to the province’s third interprovincial fixture of the new season, director of rugby Andy Friend said: “Last Friday’s victory over Munster saw a much-improved overall performance by us that is far more aligned to what we know we’re capable of as a team.

“We now have to use that as a springboard for the rest of the season, and tomorrow is another brilliant opportunity to test ourselves against some of the best in Europe.

“The atmosphere at the Sportsground last week was incredible and I know that our supporters will give us the same again and more tomorrow night.”

CONNACHT (v Leinster): Conor Fitzgerald; John Porch, Byron Ralston, David Hawkshaw, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Colm Reilly; Peter Dooley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Gavin Thornbury, Josh Murphy, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Grant Stewart, Denis Buckley, Jack Aungier, Oisin Dowling, Conor Oliver, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Ciaran Booth.