Preview: Gloucester v Connacht

Date published: December 16 2011

Gloucester have made five changes to the side that won in Galway last Saturday for this week's clash with Connacht at Kingsholm.

Gloucester have made five changes to the side that won in Galway last Saturday for this week's clash with Connacht at Kingsholm.

Gloucester edged a hard-fought fixture between the sides and Head Coach Bryan Redpath has kept faith with the majority of his team but makes two changes to the pack and three to his back line.

Into the front row comes prop Dan Murphy for his first start since the LV= Cup fixture at Leicester on October 21. Also returning at prop is tighthead Rupert Harden.

Redpath also unveils a new half-back pairing in Nick Runciman and Tim Taylor with Rory Lawson and Freddie Burns moving to the bench while Mike Tindall is over his groin injury and partners Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu in the midfield.

“Saturday's win wasn't pretty in parts but it was key to get the result, and we did. Our error count and discipline was much better than of late and that made a huge difference to our performance,” said Redpath.

“We've talked about what happened last year in the corresponding fixture when we won in La Rochelle and were then defeated at home against the same side who some people said wouldn't travel very well.

“We know that Connacht will not be coming here just to lie down. Conditions are not looking great which is a great leveller and we're going to have to be mentally strong.”

Connacht, who are competing in the Heineken Cup for the first time, have endured a baptism of fire and are still looking for their first victory in the Pool and in European rugby's premier tournament.

The visitors have made two changes to their starting XV.

Johnny O'Connor's timely return to full fitness sees him replace Ray Ofisa, who was taken off with a knee injury last week while Eoin Griffin steps in for Kyle Tonetti, who moves to the bench. The only other change sees Dylan Rogers replace Denis Buckley as replacement prop.

Connacht have recently been boosted with the re-signing of four key contracts and all four will start this weekend's match.

Centres Eoin Griffin and Dave McSharry have both committed the next two years to the Province as has John Muldoon with Johnny O'Connor singing up until at least the end on the 2012/13season.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Tim Taylor, 9 Nick Runciman, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Peter Buxton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Rory Lawson, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Jonny May,

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jonny O'Connor, 6 Dave Gannon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 George Naoupu, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Dylan Rogers, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Kyle Tonetti,

Date: Saturday, December 17
Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester
Kick-off: 15.40 GMT
Referee: Leighton Hodges