Both Connacht and Benetton Treviso are looking to record their best ever finish in the RaboDirect PRO12 – a loss by either side tonight could end that aspiration, so there is plenty to play for in this rearranged round 19 match.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, April 26
BENETTON TREVISO (7th) v CONNACHT (9th), Stadio di Monigo, 8.30pm local time/7.30pm Irish time (highlights TG4/SportItalia 2)
Team News: The Connacht team to face Benetton Treviso at the Stadio di Monigo in Friday’s rearranged RaboDirect PRO12 round 19 fixture has been named.
This match was rescheduled from March 30 when torrential rain prevented any play due to a waterlogged pitch in Treviso.
Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has made four personnel and one positional change to the team that started against Ulster last weekend.
Eoin Griffin, who picked up a knock during the last outing, has been ruled out of action this Friday night. This season’s top try scorer, Danie Poolman, moves to outside centre with Matt Healy named on the right wing.
The Lansdowne clubman came on from the bench during the interprovincial derby defeat to league leaders Ulster in Galway.
in the forwards, Adrian Flavin makes way for Ethienne Reynecke at hooker. Andrew Browne also returns to the starting lineup at blindside flanker and is joined by fellow Galway native Eoin McKeon in the back row.
Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso boss Franco Smith has made seven changes in personnel to the side that started last weekend’s impressive 30-10 dismissal of Edinburgh at home.
Ludovico Nitoglia and Gideon la Grange, who were substituted during that game, have held onto their starting berths in the backs division.
Luke McLean has been restored to full-back and Italy Under-20 international Michele Campagnaro will make his debut alongside la Grange in midfield.
Giulio Toniolatti will line out on the left wing and Edoardo Gori replaces Fabio Semenzato at scrum half in a much-changed back-line.
Up front, Michele Rizzo and Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet come in as the starting props alongside captain Leonardo Ghiraldini, while the fit-again Robert Barbieri, Treviso’s top try scorer in this season’s league with seven, takes over from Paul Derbyshire at number 8.
BENETTON TREVISO: Luke McLean; Ludovico Nitoglia, Michele Campagnaro, Gideon la Grange, Giulio Toniolatti; Alberto di Bernardo, Edoardo Gori; Michele Rizzo, Leonardo Ghiraldini (capt), Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, Francesco Minto, Valerio Bernabò, Simone Favaro, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri.
Replacements: Giovanni Maistri, Alberto de Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello, Manoa Vosawai, Marco Filippucci, Tobie Botes, Luca Morisi.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy (capt); Matt Healy, Danie Poolman, Brian Murphy, Fetu’u Vainikolo; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Ethienne Reynecke, Ronan Loughney, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Andrew Browne, Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You, JP Cooney, Michael Kearney, John Muldoon, Paul O’Donohoe, Miah Nikora, Tiernan O’Halloran.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Elia Rizzo, Filippo Navarra (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Mauro Dordolo (Italy)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Benetton Treviso to win: 1/6; Draw: 22/1; Connacht to win: 4/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Eric Elwood (Connacht) – “This is a huge game for both sides. Treviso are going for their best finish and we can still improve on our league standing for a third year in a row, so there is a lot riding on this game,” he told the Galway Advertiser.
“A win for either side would ensure we go into the last match with a huge incentive.
“Although we scored two good tries against Ulster, we were disappointed that their first two tries were easy – it came down to numbers in defence and we will have work hard in that area again on Friday.”
Franco Smith (Benetton Treviso) – “It’s pleasing if you look back but then again if we think of all the little things we have got wrong then we have some regrets. I want to get rid of them. We need to win often, the table doesn’t really interest me.
“In certain areas of the pitch we need to be more intelligent. That will be our main target this week, we don’t want to be a team that gets penalised a lot.
“It’s not our intention to be a team that gives away a lot of penalties so we will have to work on that.”
Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Benetton Treviso – Points: Alberto di Bernardo 101; Tries: Robert Barbieri 7; Connacht – Points: Dan Parks 124; Tries: Danie Poolman 5
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, October 30, 2010 – Benetton Treviso 24 Connacht 17, Stadio di Monigo
Friday, March 4, 2011 – Connacht 31 Benetton Treviso 25, the Sportsground
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
– This match was rescheduled from March 30 when torrential rain prevented any play due to a waterlogged pitch at the Stadio di Monigo
– Benetton Treviso have won their last five home matches in all competitions at and will achieve a best ever finish in the RaboDirect PRO12, hoping to make the top half of the table for the first time
– The Italians are unbeaten in their last two encounters with Irish provinces
– Connacht also have the chance of a best ever finish in the PRO12 (previously eighth last year)
– The westerners have won only one of their last three games (32-24 at Edinburgh in round 20), but Connacht have won their last six matches against Italian competition in all tournaments
– The two sides have met on five previous occasions with Connacht having the slight edge by three wins to two. The two previous encounters in Treviso have been shared one win apiece