Preview: Connacht v Treviso

Date published: December 1 2011

Connacht have made seven changes to their side for the RaboDirect PRO12 game against Treviso at the Sportsground on Friday.

Connacht have made seven changes to their XV for the RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Treviso in Galway on Friday.

Eric Elwood opts for a blend of an experienced pack with an exciting and dynamic backline.

Ethienne Reynecke and Ronan Loughney have been called into the front-row, they join Brett Wilkinson after making their mark against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup a fortnight ago.

A powerful lock combination of Michael Swift and George Naoupu backs them up while Dave Gannon, John Muldoon and Ray Ofisa, who earns his 100th Connacht cap, complete the backline.

Frank Murphy and Niall O'Connor make for a changed midfield. The half-back pairing last played together in Connacht's narrow defeat to the Cardiff Blues in October at the Sportsground.

Centre sensation Dave McSharry moves back to 12 while Connacht's latest signing, Kyle Tonetti, gets his first taste of senior action at outside centre, the 24-year-old flyer joined Connacht from Sale Sharks earlier this year.

Mark McCrea earns a start on the right wing, the former Ireland U19 winger scored the match-winning try against Dragons earlier this season. He is joined by Tiernan O'Halloran on the left wing and captain Gavin Duffy in the backline.

Meanwhile, after losing against Leinster last Saturday, Treviso face Irish opposition again, with Franco Smith making several changes in the line-up for Friday's match.

Ludovico Nitoglia returns as full-back, while Brendan Williams and Tommaso Iannone will be the wingers; Andrea Pratichetti, back at Smith's disposal, makes his seasonal debut together with Ezio Galon at centre. Fabio Semenzato and Willem De Waal are at half-back.

In the pack we find the biggest changes. The second row is completely new, with Benjamin Vermaak and Francesco Minto. In the back row, Manoa Vosawai and Paul Derbyshire are playing flankers, while Marco Filippucci is at number eight.

As for the front row, Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet is starting as tight head prop, together with Franco Sbaraglini as hooker and Michele Rizzo as loose head prop – the latter is to replace injured Antonio Pavanello and the suspended Leonardo Ghiraldini as skipper. On the bench, Edoardo Gori is likely to debut.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Kyle Tonetti, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Ray Ofisa, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Dave Gannon, 5 George Naoupu, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Dennis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Treviso: 15 Ludovico Nitoglia, 14 Tommaso Iannone, 13 Ezio Galon, 12 Andrea Pratichetti, 11 Brendan Williams, 10 Willem De Waal, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Marco Filippucci, 7 Paul Derbyshire, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Benjamin Vermaak, 4 Francesco Minto, 3 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, 2 Franco Sbaraglini, 1 Michele Rizzo (capt).
Replacements: 16 Diego Vidal, 17 Matteo Muccignat, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Corniel Van Zyl, 20 Valerio Bernabò, 21 Gonzalo Padrò, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Kristopher Burton.

Date: Friday, December 2
Kick-off: 19:30
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assessor: Michael Carroll (Ireland)