Jump to main content


Magners Preview: Aironi Rugby v Connacht

Magners Preview: Aironi Rugby v Connacht

Connacht were beaten on their previous two visits to Italy this season, but they look in good shape to produce their second successive win over Magners League basement side Aironi.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, March 26

AIRONI RUGBY (12th) v CONNACHT (8th), Stadio Zaffanella, 5.30pm local time/4.30pm Irish time

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Team News: Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his starting line-up for Saturday’s Magners League match against Aironi Rugby at Stadio Zaffanella.

It is a similar Connacht team to the side that beat Aironi at the Sportsground two weeks ago. The only change sees hooker Sean Cronin returning from Six Nations duty with Ireland.

The Limerick native has chalked up 44 Magners League caps in his three seasons with Connacht and appeared in all of Ireland’s Six Nations matches this year, bringing his total number of Test caps to 12.

Mike McCarthy continues his successful partnership with Michael Swift in the second row. McCarthy recently signed a new two-year deal with the province.

The 29-year-old’s superb form this season saw him called into the extended Ireland Six Nations squad, and he also earned his first cap for the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons.

Miah Nikora’s knee injury has ruled him out of contention this weekend and his place on the bench goes to young winger Shane Monahan.

Looking forward to his side’s second successive encounter with Aironi, Elwood said: “Everybody realises Aironi are making gains and it’s only a matter of time (before they get a win).

“Now we are their next visitors, it’s a home game for them, and their internationals are back on duty – yes, they will be targeting us. Because the game was so close in Galway, they will say ‘yes, it’s a big opportunity’.

“All we ask is for the weather to be conducive to playing rugby and we will take our chances.

“Our discipline the last day was excellent, we didn’t want their powerful pack to get into a mauling game, so again we have to be on our best behaviour.

“They have strengthened their pack, they are at home, and that’s the type of game they will want to play – be it scrum, lineout or maul.

“We don’t want to give them that situation and, hopefully, if the weather is nice, we can exert pressure by playing our brand of rugby.”

The match is not being televised, but supporters can avail of live text commentary here.

Meanwhile, Aironi head coach Rowland Phillips has made changes to the team that lost in difficult conditions in Galway.

Giulio Rubini is back in the starting line-up at full-back, in a position he filled for Rugby Parma in the Italian Super 10 Championship, and also for Italy when he made his international debut during the 2009 Six Nations.

His inclusion sees New Zealander James Marshall, who started at full-back in the last two games, revert to out-half.

Kaine Robertson and Danwel Demas start once again on the wings, while Matteo Pratichetti and Gabriel Pizarro form the centre partnership.

There is just one change to the starting forwards, with Fabio Staibano returning at tighthead prop.

The only Italian international returning from Six Nations duty is Pablo Canavosio, who has been named amongst the replacements.

AIRONI RUGBY: Giulio Rubini; Kaine Robertson, Matteo Pratichetti, Gabriel Pizarro, Danwel Demas; James Marshall, Tito Tebaldi; Alberto de Marchi, Roberto Santamaria, Fabio Staibano, Joshua Furno, Marco Bortolami (capt), Josh Sole, Gareth Krause, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Fabio Ongaro, Andrea de Marchi, Luca Redolfini, George Biagi, Nicola Cattina, Pablo Canavosio, Riccardo Bocchino, Horacio San Martin.

CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Brian Tuohy, Niva Ta’auso, Troy Nathan, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor (capt), Ray Ofisa.

Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Rodney Ah You, Bernie Upton, John Muldoon, Cillian Willis, Keith Matthews, Shane Monahan.

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Giulio de Santis, Claudio Castagnoli (both Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Aironi Rugby to win: 13/10; Draw: 19/1; Connacht to win: 4/7

Pre-Match Quotes: John Muldoon (Connacht) – “A winning run can be hard to break – that’s what we found when we were on our losing streak. We knew we were there or thereabouts but we just couldn’t get over the line.

“The squad remained upbeat throughout it all, though. No one dropped their heads and that’s been shown in the majority, if not all, of the games.

“As both Eric (Elwood) and myself said at the start of this season, it’s consistency that has been our issue. Some of that is squad depth and keeping players fresh.

“We’ve always come out and given performances but then the next week we might not turn up. That’s been a major issue for us. That’s what we’ve wanted remedy.

“The fact that we’ve been competitive in the majority of games we’ve played this year has shown that our consistency is a lot better.

“We’re not racing for the play-offs but if we could keep around the seventh or eighth bracket, that would be a major step for us and a major building block for the seasons ahead.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Aironi Rugby – Points: Ludovic Mercier 44; Tries: Nick Williams 3; Connacht – Points: Ian Keatley 180; Tries: Fionn Carr, Brian Tuohy 5 each


Friday, March 11, 2011 – Connacht 11 Aironi Rugby 6, the Sportsground


– The two teams have met just once before with Connacht triumphing 11-6 at the Sportsground on March 11

– Aironi gained their sixth losing bonus point of the season when they visited Connacht two weeks ago

– Connacht’s only defeat in their last seven matches in all competitions was a 33-18 reversal at the Ospreys on February 27

– The westerners have lost on both their visits to Italy so far this season: 23-21 at I Cavalieri Estra in the Amlin Challenge Cup and 24-17 at Benetton Treviso in the Magners League on October 30