Guinness Pro14

  • Connacht head coach Andy Friend says that the breakdown will be a key area of battle when his side entertain The Cardiff Blues this Saturday at 7:35 PM in the Guinness PRO14. 

    In the reverse fixture — a 29-7 victory for the Welsh team in Newport last October — Friend believes that the Blues got the upper hand at the breakdown and this prevented the Westerners from turning their territory and possession into more tries. 

    But the Australian is confident that Connacht have learned from the defeat and they can apply those lessons on Saturday evening. 

  • Connacht have moved up to second in Conference B of the Guinness Pro 14.

    Captain for the night Paul Boyle scored a hat-trick of tries in a 31-points to 14 bonus point win over Benetton.

  • The Connacht management team have again drafted the three representatives in the Ireland Six Nations squad straight into the starting team for tomorrow’s crucial Guinness PRO14 interpro away to Munster (k/o 7.35pm).
     
    Bundee Aki is retained at centre following his release from Ireland duty last weekend, while Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane both start at hooker and second row respectively.
     
    In all there are 7 changes from the side that secured a last-minute win at Benetton. Denis Buckley comes into an experienced front row with Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, while Gavin Thornbury in the second row alongside Dillane.
     
    Conor Oliver starts at openside flanker to face his former club, joining captain Jarrad Butler and Paul Boyle to complete the pack.
     
    There’s a new look half-back pairing of Caolin Blade and Jack Carty, while there are also new faces on the wings with Matt Healy and John Porch coming into the starting line-up. 12, 13 and 15 are unchanged from the Benetton win with Aki, Tom Daly and Tiernan O’Halloran all retained.
     
    In all 9 of the starting 15 are Connacht centurions as the side look to extend an all-time club record of 5 straight wins away from home.
      
    CONNACHT MATCHDAY 23 VS MUNSTER RUGBY
    Friday 5th March, Thomond Park, kick-off 7.35pm

    Name/Number/Caps
    15. Tiernan O’Halloran (189)
    14. John Porch (33)
    13. Tom Daly (40)
    12. Bundee Aki (108)
    11. Matt Healy (145)
    10. Jack Carty (151)
    9. Caolin Blade (124)
    1. Denis Buckley (194)
    2. Dave Heffernan (138)
    3. Finlay Bealham (152)
    4. Ultan Dillane (108)
    5. Gavin Thornbury (52)
    6. Jarrad Butler (68) (C)
    7. Conor Oliver (14)
    8. Paul Boyle (52)

    Replacements
    16. Shane Delahunt (92)
    17. Matthew Burke (19)
    18. Jack Aungier (11)
    19. Niall Murray (11)
    20. Eoghan Masterson (104)
    21. Kieran Marmion (178)
    22. Sean O’Brien (Acad) (4)
    23. Alex Wootton (15)

  • Leinster will begin the defence of their Guinness PRO14 title with a trip to Benetton.

    Leo Cullen's side will make the trip to Italy for a quarter-past-five kick-off on the evening of Saturday September 28th.

    Connacht are away to Scarlets in their opener, Munster host Dragons while Ulster face Ospreys on the Friday night of that weekend.

    The League is starting a month later this season due to the Rugby World Cup.

  • Guinness Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi remains optimistic that a finale of sorts to the 2019-20 campaign can still be salvaged from the damage caused to the rugby season by the coronavirus pandemic.

     

    All manner of contingency plans have been devised, ranging from one week to, ideally, an eight-week window which would begin with two rounds of derbies before the three playoff rounds, while also working in three playoff rounds of the two European competitions.

     

    Playing games, initially, behind closed doors and also working in double-headers or midweek games are other possibilities being considered.

  • Ireland rugby head coach Andy Farrell has retained a 24-man squad for a two-day training camp this week.

    Twelve players have been released back to their provinces ahead of this weekend's Guinness PRO14 action - including Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan returning to Connacht for their match against Cardiff Blues on Saturday evening.

    Harry Byrne, John Cooney and Eric O'Sullivan - who provided specialist injury cover late last week - also returned to their provinces and look unlikely to return for the game against Italy.

    The team will go to Rome in eleven days time seeking a first win in this year's Six Nations Championship.