Preview: Connacht v Glasgow Warriors

Date published: April 24 2015

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Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made three personnel changes to his starting XV to face Glasgow Warriors in Galway on Saturday.

Jack Carty will start at fly-half in an otherwise unchanged back-line that sees Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki link up in midfield for the fifth time.

Up front, Academy lock Ultan Dillane, who will be promoted to the senior squad next season, has been called in to partner Aly Muldowney in the second row.

Galway man Eoin McKeon is recalled to the back row to join captain John Muldoon and recent Player of the Month winner Eoghan Masterson.

From the replacements bench, Sportsground favourite George Naoupu is in line to make his 100th appearance in a Connacht shirt.

Commenting on the upcoming game, Lam said: “You could say this is our toughest game of the season with who we are up against and what is on the line.

"We understand the massive importance of tomorrow but we have prepared like we would every game. It’s up to us to go out and perform as a team.

“Glasgow are the league leaders for a reason. They are a well-coached side with huge depth in their squad of internationals and they are the number one offloading team who can score plenty of tries. So defensively, we will have to be spot on.

“It’s a huge challenge but we’re really excited by it and the fact that we’re at home makes it even more special. The Connacht support has been huge all year.

"They have carried us home in these big games before and with so much riding on the game, it’s great to know that they’ll be behind us again tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Jonny Gray returns to the Glasgow Warriors team and will captain them fpr the first time in this encounter.

The 21-year-old will partner Fijian international Leone Nakarawa in the engine room.

Stuart Hogg returns at full-back, after missing the win over Cardiff Blues a fortnight ago through injury, with Peter Murchie named on the bench.

Tommy Seymour continues on the right wing, with Niko Matawalu returning on the opposite wing, in place of the injured DTH van der Merwe.

Richie Vernon and Peter Horne continue their centre partnership, with Finn Russell and Henry Pyrgos once again the half-back pairing.

In the pack Jerry Yanuyanutawa continues at loosehead, while Fraser Brown replaces Dougie Hall at hooker and Euan Murray returns from injury at tighthead. It will be Murray's first appearance in a Warriors shirt since the win over the Scarlets at Scotstoun in January.

Gray comes in for Tim Swinson and Nakarawa for Al Kellock in the second-row, while it's the same back-row which played against Cardiff, with Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro and Adam Ashe combining.

Ryan Grant, who is on the bench, returns from a five-week spell on the sidelines, while Duncan Weir continues his comeback from injury after also being named among the replacements.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: "Connacht are a well-coached team that play with passion and ambition, and we respect them very highly. They have played well this season and are challenging for a top-six finish.

"We welcome back a number of Scotland internationals and we're delighted that Jonny Gray has been given the opportunity to captain the side from the start of the game.

"We enjoy playing at the Sportsground as there is always a really good atmosphere thanks to the vocal home support and we know we'll have to be fully focused for the full 80 minutes in order to deliver the level of performance required.”

Form: Connacht have slipped to defeat in their last four fixtures in all competitions since beating Benetton Treviso 53-5 in Galway in the Guinness PRO12 on 1st March. The Irishmen have won only two of their last eight contests against Scottish opponents. Glasgow Warriors’ only defeat in their last six Guinness PRO12 fixtures was 10-22 to Munster in Cork in round 16, whilst they have tallied a try bonus point in each of their last three matches. Away from home it is a different story, with their solitary win in their last seven trips in all tournaments was on a visit to Zebre in the PRO12 in February. Connacht have not beaten Glasgow since a 37-8 scoreline was obtained at the Sportsground in February 2011, subsequently there has been a draw (in February 2012) and six successive Warrior victories.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion,8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 George Naoupu, 21 John Cooney, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Darragh Leader.

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (c), 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jerry Yanuyanutawa.
Replacements: 16 Kevin Bryce, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Duncan Weir, 22 Peter Murchie 23 Lee Jones.

Date: Saturday, 25 April
Venue: The Sportsground
Kick-off: 13.05 BST (12.05 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea
Assistant Referees: Andy Brace, Oisin Quinn
TMO: Dermot Moloney

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