The GUINNESS PRO12’s final round before European action sees Connacht travel down to Treviso, with Pat Lam’s side gunning for their fourth win in six league games.
GUINNESS PRO12: Friday, October 10
BENETTON TREVISO (12th) v CONNACHT (5th), Stadio di Monigo, 8pm local time/7pm Irish time (live Nuvolari TV/Galway Bay FM)
Team News: Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made a total of five changes to his starting line-up for Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 encounter with Benetton Treviso at the Stadio di Monigo.
In the same week that he signed a Connacht Academy contract, 20-year-old Shane Delahunt has been handed his first PRO12 start at hooker after coming on from the bench in the last two rounds.
Hailing from Birr, County Offaly, Delahunt attended Kilkenny College where he captained the senior team to their first ever Leinster Senior League title in 2011.
Having come through the Leinster underage system, Delahunt was included in the Ireland Under-20 Six Nations squad last season and earned his first cap against Scotland U-20s in January.
The young hooker starts in an all-new front row this week, alongside the province’s September Player of the Month Denis Buckley and Ireland-capped tighthead prop Rodney Ah You.
In the back row, Galway man Eoin McKeon is named at openside flanker while the only change to the backs sees Matt Healy start on the left wing. Danie Poolman is included among the replacement backs along with David McSharry and Ian Porter.
Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso boss Umberto Casellato has made five personnel changes to the side that started last Sunday’s 43-20 home defeat to Glasgow Warriors.
Enrico Bacchin comes in at inside centre where he partners Luca Morisi, with Michele Campagnaro – the scorer of two tries against Glasgow – reverting to the left wing.
New Zealander Sam Christie takes the reins at out-half, pairing up with Edoardo Gori at half-back. It will be Christie’s fourth start of the current campaign.
The injured Matteo Muccignat makes way for Matteo Zanusso at loosehead prop, with debutant Albert Anae providing back-up from the bench.
Corniel van Zyl takes over the second row and captaincy duties from Antonio Pavanello, while Italy flanker Alessandro Zanni makes a welcome return from knee surgery and a ruptured eardrum.
Lock Tomas Vallejos Cinalli and full-back Simone Ragusi feature among the Treviso replacements, fresh from their call-ups for Italy’s November Tests.
BENETTON TREVISO: Jayden Hayward; Ludovico Nitoglia, Luca Morisi, Enrico Bacchin, Michele Campagnaro; Sam Christie, Edoardo Gori; Matteo Zanusso, Davide Giazzon, Rupert Harden, Marco Fuser, Corniel van Zyl (capt), Simone Favaro, Alessandro Zanni, Mat Luamanu.
Replacements: Amar Kudin, Albert Anae, Romulo Acosta, Antonio Pavanello, Tomas Vallejos Cinalli, Francesco Minto, Simone Ragusi, Alberto Lucchese.
CONNACHT: Darragh Leader; Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Rodney Ah You, Michael Kearney, Quinn Roux, John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.
Replacements: David Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Aly Muldowney, Willie Faloon, Ian Porter, David McSharry, Danie Poolman.
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea, Andrea Spadoni (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Stefano Roscini (Italy)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Benetton Treviso to win: 6/4; Draw: 20/1; Connacht to win: 1/2
Pre-Match Quotes: Pat Lam (Connacht) – “We’ve made a few changes to the pack for our game against Treviso. We travel this week without Nathan (White) who just missed out due to a minor neck strain.
“Rodney and Denis return to start and are charged with looking after Shane who earns his first start. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Shane who has come off the bench the last two games for a few minutes.
“Without the injured hookers Jason (Harris-Wright) and Sean (Henry) as well as the wait for Tom (McCartney) from his Auckland commitments, Shane joined the squad in pre-season and we have been very impressed with his attitude and work ethic.
“Treviso are a tough team to play away, especially up front where they will look to disrupt us. We showed last season at the Stadio di Monigo what can happen to us when we don’t play as a team and we haven’t let ourselves forget that in our preparations this week.
“Treviso will be looking for their first win of the season and at home in front of their home crowd, but it’s up to us to ensure the focus is on getting our processes right in order to carry on the winning momentum from the start of the season.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Benetton Treviso – Points: Joe Carlisle 29; Tries: Michele Campagnaro 2; Connacht – Points: Darragh Leader 20; Tries: Kieran Marmion 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, September 3, 2011 – Benetton Treviso 9 Connacht 11, Stadio di Monigo
Friday, December 2, 2011 – Connacht 13 Benetton Treviso 15, the Sportsground
Saturday, November 3, 2012 – Connacht 18 Benetton Treviso 3, the Sportsground
Friday, April 26, 2013 – Benetton Treviso 23 Connacht 23, Stadio di Monigo
Friday, October 4, 2013 – Benetton Treviso 23 Connacht 3, Stadio di Monigo
Saturday, March 1, 2014 – Connacht 38 Benetton Treviso 6, the Sportsground
– Benetton Treviso have lost their last eight GUINNESS PRO12 encounters since beating the Newport Gwent Dragons at the Stadio di Monigo on April 12, a run which has seen them gain just one league point
– The Italians have not beaten Irish opposition since this equivalent fixture against Connacht in round 5 last season
– Connacht’s only defeat in the GUINNESS PRO12 so far this season came at table-topping Glasgow in round 4
– Connacht’s only win in their last five away games was 14-13 against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield in round 2
– The westerners have won their last four clashes with Italian opponents in all competitions
– Both sides won their respective home game when the two teams met last season, while Connacht’s only victory in their four previous visits to the Stadio di Monigo came in September 2011