After a week of contrasting injury news for Connacht, Pat Lam’s men will be hoping to put recent setbacks – including last Saturday’s late heartbreak at the hands of Leinster – behind them when they host Glasgow Warriors in Galway.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, November 2
CONNACHT (12th) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (3rd), the Sportsground, 5pm (live Galway Bay FM)
Team News: The Connacht team to face Glasgow Warriors in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter at the Sportsground has been named. There are four changes to the starting line-up that lined out against Leinster last weekend.
David McSharry returns to the fray for his first start in ten months and is named at inside centre. The 23-year-old marked his return from injury last month by coming on as a replacement in the 33-6 Heineken Cup victory over Zebre.
Joining McSharry in the centre is 20-year-old Darragh Leader who made his first senior appearance away to the Ospreys last season. The utility back has impressed the management through his performances in training and with the Connacht Eagles.
Connacht’s leading try scorer Fionn Carr is named on the right wing in a back-three featuring Gavin Duffy and Matt Healy. Up front, Jason Harris-Wright will start as hooker in his 25th appearance for the province.
The replacements bench includes experienced tighthead prop Nathan White who returns after a three-week absence due to injury. Michael Kearney is also included in the matchday squad and could make his seasonal debut.
Meanwhile, Dougie Hall will make his 150th league appearance when he starts for Glasgow Warriors away to Connacht in round 7 of the RaboDirect PRO12.
The experienced hooker replaces Pat MacArthur for the trip to Galway. Fijian Niko Matawalu comes in for Sean Maitland at full-back, while Byron McGuigan and DTH van der Merwe continue on either wing.
Mark Bennett and Gabriel Ascarate form the centre partnership with Duncan Weir and captain Chris Cusiter continuing at out-half and scrum half respectively.
In the pack Gordon Reid and Jon Welsh complete the front row with Hall, and Jonny Gray and Tom Ryder combine in the second row. The Scots’ starting back row is comprised of Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and number 8 Josh Strauss.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Fionn Carr, Darragh Leader, David McSharry, Matt Healy; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift (capt), Craig Clarke, Mata Fifita, Jake Heenan, George Naoupu.
Replacements: David Heffernan, JP Cooney, Nathan White, Aly Muldowney, Michael Kearney, Paul O’Donohoe, Craig Ronaldson, Tiernan O’Halloran.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Niko Matawalu; Byron McGuigan, Mark Bennett, Gabriel Ascarate, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter (capt); Gordon Reid, Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh, Tom Ryder, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Moray Low, Ed Kalman, Richie Vernon, Leone Nakarawa, Tyrone Holmes, Scott Wight, Finn Russell.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Ken Imbusch (both Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Connacht to win: 7/4; Draw: 18/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 4/9
Pre-Match Quotes: Pat Lam (Connacht) – “I’m delighted to be able to give Dave McSharry a start after a long road to recovery for him. And with our regular outside centres unavailable, young Academy back Darragh Leader gets a chance to start which we’re all looking forward to.
“Once again, it’s been a disruptive week with more players being added to our ever-growing injury list.
“Losing Sean Henry, Andrew Browne, Aaron Conneely and Danie Poolman to injury and Robbie Henshaw to the Ireland camp has meant that we’ve had to dig deep as a group.
“On a positive note, it’s a big boost to have Jason and Nathan back in the squad. We’ve been really pleased with the form of our props, Rodney (Ah You) and Brett (Wilkinson), in the last number of weeks and so they’ll start again tomorrow with Nathan on the bench.
“Glasgow are at the top end of the table and are a team who have been consistently improving the last number of years. I witnessed their last visit in May when I had first arrived here.
“They were an impressive outfit and very clinical in beating us. They are one of the best defensive outfits in the competition and will punish any errors.
“But we have been building and building on the performances and fight of the last few weeks and are really looking forward to this clash.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “We were all disappointed with the defeat to Munster last weekend and we’re determined to pick ourselves up for what will be another tough game tomorrow night.
“Connacht are playing very well under Pat Lam and came very close to beating Saracens and Leinster in recent weeks, so we know how difficult this game will be.
“Due to the upcoming autumn Tests we’ve made a few changes, which is an opportunity for a number of other players in the squad.”
Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Connacht – Points: Dan Parks 37; Tries: Matt Healy, Kieran Marmion 2 each; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 13; Tries: Byron McGuigan 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, March 5, 2010 – Connacht 19 Glasgow Warriors 19, the Sportsground
Friday, September 17, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 17 Connacht 19, Firhill Stadium
Friday, February 18, 2011 – Connacht 37 Glasgow Warriors 8, the Sportsground
Saturday, February 18, 2012 – Connacht 13 Glasgow Warriors 13, the Sportsground
Friday, September 21, 2012 – Glasgow Warriors 27 Connacht 17, Scotstoun Stadium
Friday, May 3, 2013 – Connacht 3 Glasgow Warriors 20, the Sportsground
– Connacht’s tense late defeat at Leinster last Saturday, having led for virtually the whole game, sees them prop up the RaboDirect PRO12 table for the first time since the 2005/06 season
– The westerners’ only victory at the Sportsground since March was 25-16 over Zebre in round 1 of this season’s league
– Glasgow Warriors slipped to their first defeat in the PRO12 this season at home to Munster last Friday, their first reversal in the regular season since April
– The Warriors have won all three away games they have played in the PRO12 this season, and have won on two of their last three visits to Ireland
– Connacht have not beaten Glasgow since an encounter at the Sportsground in February 2011