Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

Date published: September 11 2014

Connacht boss Pat Lam has made three personnel and one positional change for Friday's clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Connacht boss Pat Lam has made three personnel and one positional change for Friday's clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

There is a slight reshuffle to the young back line as Robbie Henshaw takes the number 13 shirt, shifting Darragh Leader to his preferred position of full-back. Ian Porter, who made his Connacht debut at the Sportsground last week, makes way for Kieran Marmion who partners Jack Carty at half back.

Up front, Willie Faloon is the only change to the pack coming in at openside flanker to a back row with captain John Muldoon and last week's try scorer Eoin McKeon.

Aly Muldowney, Craig Ronaldson and Fionn Carr all come on to the bench for tomorrow's game in the Scottish capital.

Commenting on team selection and the upcoming game, Lam said: “It's great to have the experience of both Robbie (Henshaw) and Kieran (Marmion) in the starting XV this week.

“They are both itching to get back into the Connacht shirt and are great additions to our already young and energetic back line.

“While it's disappointing to be without Jake (Heenan) this week, we are fortunate that Willie (Faloon) can step straight into the Number 7 shirt and do a great job.

“We were pleased with the outcome of last week's game but we all knew we had a lot of work to do during the week to improve certain areas of our game that let us down.

“It's been a quick turnaround for us, leaving on Thursday for Edinburgh, but we know we all have to be on the same page to nail the process that is needed to defeat a very strong Edinburgh team at home especially after their great win over Munster last week.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has moved Sam Beard from centre to right wing while Nick McLennan graduates from the bench to partner him on the left wing.

Lock Anton Bresler, scrum-half Grayson Hart and centre Joaquin Dominguez come on to the bench.

Solomons is under no illusions of the task in hand and underlined the importance of backing up the performance they delivered in last weekend's win over Munster.

“I've got a lot of respect for Connacht and we know we're going to have to deliver a really good performance.

“Unfortunately neither Tim Visser nor Dougie Fife are available this week but on the positive side, it's good that Anton Bresler has a chance to come off the bench.

Mike [Coman] took a knock in the game against Munster and wasn't able to train until Thursday so it's prudent that he starts off the bench.”

Prop Alasdair Dickinson, who celebrates his 31st birthday today [11 September] and retains his place in the starting side, while encouraged by last weekend's win is fully focused on Friday.

He said: “It was an awesome feeling as it's a tough place to win but we have to put it behind us.

“It's been a tough pre-season but the boys are in incredible shape and we proved that last weekend. The performance was a credit to the staff.”

Dickinson is steeling himself for an equally tough encounter come 7.35pm on Friday.

“Connacht are notoriously hard to beat, incredibly physical and never give up. It's our first game of the season at home, we're all looking forward to it and ready for the challenge.”

Moving onto the wing from last weekend's centre spot, Beard is eager to run out in front of the home support this Friday.

He said: “Last week's win has given us a boost going into this match – we really appreciate the home support and are hoping to get a good crowd tomorrow night.”

Form: Edinburgh ended a five game losing streak in the Guinness PRO12 with their exciting 14-13 victory at Munster on Friday. The Scotsmen have not begun a season with back-to-back victories since 2009/10, but are on an unwanted run of three straight home defeats. Connacht also ended a five game losing run with their 16-11 victory at home to the Dragons on Saturday. Connacht began the 2011/12 season with two victories, the first time they had achieved this since 2006. The Irishmen's only victory in Scotland in their last seven visits was in this equivalent fixture at Murrayfield two seasons ago. Connacht were victorious 11-7 in Galway the last time that these two sides met but have never managed back-to-back victories over Edinburgh.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Sam Beard, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Nick McLennan, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Tomas Leonardi, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 John Andress, 2 Ross Ford (c), 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 W P Nel, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Mike Coman, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Grayson Hart, 23 Joaquin Dominguez.

Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Fionn Carr.

Date: Friday, September 12
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Lloyd Linton (Scotland), Graeme Marshall (Scotland)
Television match official: David Changleng (Scotland)
Assessor: Andy Clift (Scotland)