Preview: Connacht v Treviso

Date published: November 5 2015

Ireland international Robbie Henshaw will start at full-back for Connacht as they take on Treviso at the Sportsground on Friday.

The 22-year-old, in his first appearance for Connacht since the Rugby World Cup, is one of six personnel changes to Pat Lam’s side from last Saturday’s win over Edinburgh.

Last week’s man of the match Tiernan O’Halloran shifts to right wing in a slightly changed back line that also sees scrum-half John Cooney come in for his second start of the season.

In the pack, Dave Heffernan and Ireland international Nathan White are introduced to the front row, while Ultan Dillane comes in to partner Andrew Browne, playing his 100th PRO12 game, in the second row.

Galway man Eoin McKeon returns to the back row to link up with captain John Muldoon and the season’s top try scorer Nepia Fox-Matamua.

From the bench, USA international fly-half AJ MacGinty could make his first appearance in a Connacht jersey, after the Dubliner joined the province last month.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, head coach Pat Lam said: "We’ve made a few changes this week, with Robbie and Nathan back for us but also some guys returning from injury. This is only game four of the 16-game run so it’s a long way to go and we’re going to need players feeling as fresh as possible each week.

"Robbie will start in the 15 shirt for us where he has a lot of experience from his earlier days at Connacht. Obviously Tiernan has done a great job for us at fullback since the start of the season but his move to wing for this game means we can keep that continuity in our centre partnership for this week.

"We always have tough, physical battles when it comes to Treviso and we’ve always had to work hard against them. They have the ability to pile on the pressure and it’s up to us to counter that by being disciplined to stay in our systems and structures."

Meanwhile Treviso have made six changes from the team that lost to Leinster last time out.

Andrea Pratichetti shifts out to the wing while Tommaso Iannone and Enrico Bacchin form a new-look centre partnership.

Luke McLean continues at fly-half and links up with Alberto Lucchese who replaces Edoardo Gori.

In the pack Marco Barbini comes in for Francesco Minto, with Jeff Montauriol and Luca Bigi also coming into the front five.

Treviso are still to pick up a win this season, having lost all six of their games, although they have picked up four losing bonus points.

Form: Connacht have won their last four matches in the PRO12, whilst their single defeat this season was by a solitary point at Glasgow in Round Two. Connacht have not won five in a row in the competition since 2002. Treviso are without a win in the PRO12 since beating The Blues at Stadio Monigo in February (13 rounds ago). The Italians have not beaten an Irish opponent since Connacht visited Treviso in October 2013. Connacht have won their last three encounters with Treviso, whilst  Treviso’s only victory in the last six contests between the two sides was 23-3 at Stadio Monigo on 4 October 2013. 

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O’Halloran, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Nathan White, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Darragh Leader 

Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Andrea Pratichetti, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Enrico Bacchin, 11 Simone Ragusi, 10 Luke McLean, 9 Alberto Lucchese, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Alessandro Zanni (c), 6 Marco Barbini , 5 Jeff Montauriol, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Rupert Harden 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matteo Muccignat, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Dean Budd, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Andrea De Marchi, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Sam Christie.

Date: Friday, November 6
Venue: Sportsground
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Ken Imbush (Ireland)
TMO: Gordon Black (Ireland)