Preview: Ospreys v Connacht

25th Feb 2011, 13:28

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Starting at eight: Jerry Collins

Starting at eight: Jerry Collins

Connacht Head Coach Eric Elwood has made just one change to his line-up for Sunday's Magners League clash with Ospreys.

Head Coach Eric Elwood has made just one change to his side for Sunday's Magners League clash with Ospreys.

Hooker Adrian Flavin replaces Sean Cronin who has been called into the Irish squad.

The reserves see Connacht Academy hooker Dermot Murphy drafted in and the return of Keith Matthews from injury.

Meanwhile, Ospreys are without 16 players who are on international duty.

"Connacht have always been a tough nut to crack, and that'll definitely be the case this weekend," said Ospreys Director of Coaching Scott Johnson.

"They don't get too many distractions from internationals, and they've definitely evolved their game this season. They are playing an attacking game which is getting them rewards on the pitch. Just look at their recent results.

"It's a really exciting couple of months for the Ospreys. We are trying to build something special here and the kids that most people are seeing for the first time have a big part to play in that, and in our future. What we've seen from over the last month has been very encouraging. They've shown desire, commitment, integrity, diligence and a great work ethic, as well as a desire to do the right thing for the team, which bodes well for the future. It's very pleasing. I'd hope that the supporters can recognise this, really identify with what these kids are doing and get behind them.

"It's important that they continue progressing, and this team has got an opportunity over the next two weekends to really cement the Ospreys place in the top four."

Form: Ospreys have won their last five matches in all competitions since their 12-24 reversal at London Irish in the European Cup on 16 January. Ospreys have not lost at home to a visitor from outside of Wales in the Magners League since Leinster visited the Liberty Stadium on 12 September 2009. Connacht have won their last four games in all competitions - Connacht's best run since season 2003/04. The Irishmen's only victory in their last 25 away matches in the Magners League was 19-17 at Glasgow on 17 September. Ospreys have won their last five encounters with Connacht, whilst Connacht have not won on Ospreys soil since a 10-9 victory at the Gnoll on 21 November 2004.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Jerry Collins, 7 Justin Tipuric (C), 6 Tom Smith, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Craig Cross, 19 Andy Lloyd, 20 James King, 21 Tom Isaacs, 22 Dai Flanagan, 23 Andrew Bishop.

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 (c), 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike 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 Mike McComish, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Mia Nikora, 23 Keith Matthews.

Date: Sunday, February 27
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 14.30 GMT
Referee: Stefano Penne (FIR)