Con­nacht spir­its high as they take on Chee­tahs

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY - JOHNNY WAT­TER­SON

Chee­tahs v Con­nacht Bloem­fontein 3.0pm

Con­nacht have made five changes from last week to the start­ing team to face the Chee­tahs in Bloem­fontein.

Hooker Tom Mc­Cart­ney, lock Gavin Thorn­bury, Paul Boyle and Robin Copeland in the back row and winger Niyi Ade­olokun come into the side fol­low­ing last week’s 14-31 bonus point win over South­ern Kings.

Ade­olokun, start­ing on the wing, is the only change in the Con­nacht back­line. He will be part of a back three that in­cludes Matt Healy and Tier­nan O’Hal­lo­ran at full­back thus pro­vid­ing Con­nacht with pace on both sides.

Thorn­bury is start­ing his first game since re­turn­ing from a shoul­der in­jury picked up in the win over Scar­lets ear­lier in the sea­son.

“Com­ing over here we set our­selves the tar­get of two wins and that firmly re­mains our goal,” said Con­nacht coach Andy Friend.

“The win against the Kings last week was hugely im­por­tant for the mo­rale among the group and it sets us up for the chal­lenge of tak­ing on the Chee­tahs in Bloem­fontein.”

Friend’s side face a home team that like to throw the ball around and play a run­ning game.

Cre­at­ing space

Chee­tahs tend to open sides up by widen­ing the pitch and cre­at­ing space and are com­ing off a 31-25 win over Benet­ton last week.

The teams have met twice be­fore and both matches were closely-fought, with the Toy­ota Chee­tahs win­ning their home match 26-25 last sea­son, while Con­nacht reg­is­tered a nar­row 23-15 vic­tory in Gal­way. CHEE­TAHS:MJaer;RSmith,WS­mall-Smit,NLee,DA­do­nis;LFouche,SVen­ter;ONche,J Dweba,EdeJager,SMan­jezi,JduPreez,JPokomela,ANonkontwa.Re­place­ments-Mvanb derMerwe,CMarais,ACoet­zee,JBas­son,DMaartens,RPaige,TS­choe­man,BJan­se­van Rens­burg. CON­NACHT:TO’Hal­lo­ran;NAde­olokun,KGod­win,TFar­rell,MHealy;JCarty,CBlade;D Buck­ley,TMcCart­ney,CCarey,UDil­lane,GThorn­bury,PBoyle,JBut­ler(Capt),RCopeland. Re­place­ments-SDe­lahunt,PMcCabe,DRobert­son-McCoy,JCan­non,CFainga’a,JMitchell,D Hor­witz,CKelle­her. Ref­eree:DJones(WRU). Ver­dict:Con­nacht

Con­nacht’s sole back­line change sees Niyi Ade­olokun re­turn on the wing

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