Con­nacht’s de­fence set for stern test against free-scor­ing Chee­tahs

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS - LIN­LEY MacKEN­ZIE

Tonight Con­nacht v Chee­tahs Sports­ground, 7.35pm TG4

Con­nacht has every rea­son to be wary of first-time vis­i­tors, the Chee­tahs, to the Gal­way Sports­ground this evening.

The South Africans have al­ready bagged four wins from their seven out­ings to date, most re­cently last week­end against Ze­bre in Italy, and they sit in third place in Con­fer­ence A, eight points above Con­nacht.

How­ever Kieran Keane’s side is also on some­thing of a roll af­ter their poor start, seek­ing a fourth win on the trot fol­low­ing their gritty 20-16 win over Mun­ster, and backs coach Nigel Carolan says vic­tory will be for­got­ten un­less it is backed up this evening.

“This is our last game of a block 10 and it has been a big of a slog. We ground out a win against the odds, and it has given us con­fi­dence, but we need to jump on the back of that mo­men­tum, so it is im­por­tant to stay on task.”

Miss­ing play­ers

Both sides are miss­ing play­ers. Con­nacht are with­out Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ul­tan Dil­lane due to in­ter­na­tional duty, while another big loss is in­jured open­side flanker Jar­rad But­ler. As a re­sult Craig Ron­ald­son part­ners Tom Far­rell in the cen­tre, Caolan Blade takes over at scrumhalf, and Quinn Roux joins James Can­non in the sec­ondrow, while in-form Eoin McKeon moves to open­side with Eoghan Master­son start­ing at num­ber six Niyi Ade­olokun makes his first start on the wing.

Both teams en­joy high-tempo run­ning rugby, but against a South African side that has scored the most in this con­fer­ence, and sec­ond be­hind Scar­lets over­all, this will be a big test of Con­nacht’s de­fence, and if the weather plays its part, a high scor­ing game is ex­pected.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.