Planet Rugby

Preview: Connacht v Aironi

10th March 2011 12:28

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john muldoon connacht 2010

In the squad: John Muldoon

Connacht have announced their side that will take on basement side Aironi in the Magners League clash at the Sportsground this Friday.

This re-scheduled fixture is the first meeting of any sort between the teams and the only fixture in the competition this weekend.

Connacht are on a good run of late, winning five out of their last six games in all competitions with the only loss coming at the hands of last term's Magners League champions the Ospreys.

Aironi on the other hand are still at the foot of the table but have put in some very impressive performances of late, including last week in Belfast where they put in a spirited performance.

Connacht's team shows one change from the XV that beat Treviso last Friday. Hooker Sean Cronin has been selected in the Ireland squad to face Wales in the Six Nations, so Adrian Flavin returns to the front row with Dermot Murphy coming in to the bench.

The other change on the bench is the return of club captain John Muldoon after a three month lay-off with a broken arm. Muldoon suffered the injury in December's Amlin Challenge Cup tie with Harlequins, and his return is a welcome boost to a Connacht back-row.

With Muldoon on the bench, the team will again be captained by Johnny O'Connor. The centurion has been leading by example on the pitch since he stepped in to the breach, showing his tenacity at the breakdown and winning two man-of-the-match awards.

Meanwhile, Aironi have recalled Tito Tebaldi to their scrum-half jersey in what is the only alteration to the side that ran out at Ravenhill.

The Italians will no doubt see this fixture as being a major opportunity to post their first ever Magners League victory.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Brian Tuohy, 13 Niva Ta'auso, 12 Troy Nathan, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Ray Ofisa, 7 Johnny O'Connor (capt), 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Michael McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Dermot Murphy, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Bernie Upton, 20 John Muldoon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Keith Matthews.

Aironi: 15 James Marshall, 14 Kaine Robertson, 13 Gilberto Pavan, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Riccardo Bocchino, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Gareth Krause, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Marco Bortolami (capt), 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Ulyses Gamboa, 2 Roberto Santamaria, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Luigi Ferraro, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Nicola Cattina, 21 Giulio Toniolatti, 22 Gabriel Pizarro, 23 Giulio Rubini

Date: Friday, March 11
Kick-off: 19:35
Venue: Sportsground
Referee: James Jones (Wales)

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