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Magners Preview: Connacht v Benetton Treviso

Magners Preview: Connacht v Benetton Treviso

Connacht could move up the Magners League table when they entertain Benetton Treviso under the Sportsground floodlights. This is the first of three successive games against Italian opposition for Eric Elwood’s side.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, March 4

CONNACHT (10th) v BENETTON TREVISO (8th), the Sportsground, 7pm

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Team News: Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has made one change in personnel for the province’s Magners League meeting with Benetton Treviso at the Sportsground on Friday.

The selected team remains virtually unchanged from the side that has featured over the last couple of weeks.

The only change sees hooker Sean Cronin returning from Ireland duty, with Adrian Flavin reverting to the replacements bench. Niva Ta’auso and Jamie Hagan have recovered from slight knocks to start once again.

There is one other alteration to the make-up of the bench as Mike McComish has suffered a hamstring injury and is ruled out of contention.

His place will be taken by Galwegians clubman Dave Nolan, who made his Magners League debut last season. He featured in Connacht’s historic 40-17 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons at the start of the current campaign.

A win for Connacht over Benetton Treviso on Friday would see them climb above the Italian side in the league standings.

Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso are back on Irish soil for the second successive week after last Friday’s 30-5 loss at Leinster.

Head coach Franco Smith has made five changes to the starting line-up, with big Fijian Manoa Vosawai returning at openside flanker.

It is all change in the front row where Franco Sbaraglini gets the nod at hooker and Lorenzo Cittadini comes in at tighthead prop.

In the backs, Andrea Pratichetti and Brendan Williams will start at centre and full-back respectively, with Joe Maddock moving to the left wing after a good showing against Leinster.

Ludovico Nitoglia will partner Willem de Waal at half-back once again, as Treviso’s top scorer Tobie Botes remains sidelined by injury.

The replacements bench includes flanker Gonzalo Padro, who has scored three tries in his last four league outings, as well as Paul Derbyshire and Gonzalo Garcia.

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, Dave Nolan, Cillian Willis, Miah Nikora, Keith Matthews.

BENETTON TREVISO: Brendan Williams; Michele Sepe, Ezio Galon, Andrea Pratichetti, Joe Maddock; Willem de Waal, Ludovico Nitoglia; Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, Franco Sbaraglini, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello (capt), Corniel van Zyl, Bian Vermaak, Manoa Vosawai, Marco Filippucci.

Replacements: Enrico Ceccato, Michele Rizzo, Pedro di Santo, Enrico Pavanello, Gonzalo Padro, Paul Derbyshire, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrea Marcato.

Referee: Graham Knox (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, David O’Flynn (both Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Connacht to win: 1/7; Draw: 25/1; Benetton Treviso to win: 4/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Eric Elwood (Connacht) – “We have an opportunity and hopefully we will take it. Last weekend against the Ospreys we didn’t, but now we must bounce back.

“Treviso will be difficult. Although they have not done as well away from home, they will be very competitive so we are under no illusions about Friday’s task.

“We know exactly what is ahead of us, and if we want to move forward and upwards, we need to win.

“We thought we would gain a bonus point at least (against the Ospreys), but unfortunately we missed a late penalty kick.

“However, we are not making excuses, our accuracy and execution, for whatever reason, was not 100% and I was disappointed with aspects of both our defence and attack.

“It was an opportunity and we didn’t take it but hopefully we will bounce back this week. It’s a home game and another big opportunity.”

Marius Goosen (Benetton Treviso) – “Winning away is one of our major goals this season and we’ve got plenty of chances coming up with four successive away trips.

“We are always highly competitive at home, but the next step mentally as much as anything else for the team is to win away. We are still waiting for that first away triumph in the Magners League, but once we get it the second one should be easier to come by.

“We will have a couple of our Italian squad members back this weekend, but we know it is going to be a very hard game in Connacht.

“These are difficult times for us with 13 players away on international duty and another five or six with the Italy Under-20 squad.

“But the good thing is that it gives other squad members the chance to play at this level. The players are improving all the time and you can see that from the performances of the national side in the Six Nations.

“It was great seeing Fabio Semenzato being given the man-of-the-match award against Wales. He has figured a lot for us this season and is a typically gritty, competitive Italian scrum half.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Connacht – Points: Ian Keatley 153; Tries: Fionn Carr 5; Benetton Treviso – Points: Tobie Botes 122; Tries: Tobie Botes, Gonzalo Padro 3 each


Saturday, October 30, 2010 – Benetton Treviso 24 Connacht 17, Stadio di Monigo


– Connacht’s last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day. Connacht have won their last three home games at the Sportsground in all competitions

– Benetton Treviso’s only victory in their last six matches in all competitions was a 19-18 success at home to Munster on February 13

– Treviso have won just one away game this season, a 16-15 victory at Aironi in the Magners League on New Year’s Eve

– The two teams have met just once before, in round 7 this season, when Treviso won 24-17 at Stadio di Monigo