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Preview: Aironi v Connacht

06th January 2012 11:33

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Tyson Keats Lee Byrne Clermont Aironi 2011

Tyson Keats: At scrum-half for Aironi

Giulio Toniolatti, Tyson Keats and Joshua Furno return to Aironi's starting XV for Saturday's PRO12 clash with Connacht.

Toniolatti returns to the right wing with Sinoti Sinoti switching to the opposite side.

After a two-week absence Keats is back at scrum-half alongside Luciano Orquera, who has succeeded with 12 of his last 13 attempts at goal.

Up front Furno is the only change in the pack. He returns to the second row to resume his partnership with captain Marco Bortolami.

There is plenty of experience on the bench with Salvatore Perugini, Mauro Bergamasco, Quintin Geldenhuys and Tito Tebaldi among the replacements.

Aironi are chasing their third win of the season and are hoping to make full use of the home gorund advantage.

This season the Italian side managed two wins at Stadio Zaffanella against Edinburgh and Treviso and collected two bonus points in their defeats against Ulster and Cardiff.

The only home match where they failed to bag any points was their loss to third-placed Glasgow Warriors.

A victory on Saturday will allow Aironi to leave the bottom of the table if the Dragons lose their tie to the Ospreys on Friday.

Aironi centre Gabriel Pizarro is hungry for another win.

"I don't know these stats," he said.

What I just know is that we need to win and we want to do it, even just 3-0, it doesn't matter.

"But if we want to beat Connacht we must play with the same angger we showed in the win against Treviso," added Pizarro.

Meanwhile, Connacht's towering lock Michael Swift and versatile prop Dylan Rogers return to their pack while scrum-half Frank Murphy joins centre Dave McSharry and winger Fetu'u Vainikolo as the changes in the back-line.

Swift is Connacht's most capped player with a staggering 207 caps over 11 seasons for the province.

He has recently penned a contract extension that will see him remain at the club until at least the end of the 2012/13 season and marks his return to the starting line-up following a two week break with a knee injury.

Dylan Rogers replaces the injured Ronan Loughney at tighthead.

The 27-year-old South African-born prop can play at either side of the scrum and earned the call-up after impressing from the bench in last weekend's narrow loss to Leinster.

Murphy earns the starting berth at scrum-half ahead of Paul O'Donohoe and McSharry returns to centre following a week's lay-off while a nasty chin injury healed.

McSharry, who recently penned a two-year contract, has been ever-present in the squad since earning his first cap against Ulster earlier this season.

Vainikolo returns to the right wing replacing the injured Brian Tuohy.

Tuohy underwent surgery earlier this week to repair a broken leg sustained in the New Years Day derby against Leinster and looks set to miss most of the remainder of the season.

Form: Aironi beat Italian adversaries Benetton Treviso 27-13 on 23 December last time out at Stadio Zaffanella and are attempting to win back to back home games for the first time. Aironi's only previous success against an Irish side came in this equivalent fixture in Viadana last season. Connacht seem unable to break out of their losing streak which now stands at a dozen matches in all competitions since they beat Newport Gwent Dragons 17-13 at the Sportsground on 23 September. Connacht's only away win in the RaboDirect PRO12 since September 2010 remains their 11-9 score at Treviso in round one this season. Each side won its respective home encounter when the two teams met last season.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Aironi: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Josh Sole, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Fabio Staibano, 2 Roberto Santamaria, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Salvatore Perugini, 18 Lorenzo Romano, 19 Quintin Geldenhuys, 20 Mauro Bergamasco, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Naas Olivier, 23 Alberto Benettin. Coach: Rowland Phillips.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Kyle Tonetti, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Mattew Jarvis, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Dylan Rogers, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Stewart Maguire, 19 Eoin McKeon, 20 Ray Ofisa, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Henry Fa'afili.

Date: Saturday, 7 January
Venue: Stadio Zaffanella
Kick-off: 16.35 (15.35 GMT)
Referee: AndrewMcMenemy (SRU)

  • Connacht Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Friday , November 21
Connacht vs Zebre19:35
Saturday , November 29
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Friday , December 19
Leinster vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , December 27
Ulster vs ConnachtTBC
Friday , January 9
Connacht vs Edinburgh19:35
Wednesday, January 14
Scarlets vs ConnachtTBC
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , December 6
Connacht vs BayonneTBC
Saturday , December 13
Bayonne vs ConnachtTBC
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
  • Connacht Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 18
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 10
Benetton Treviso 6 - 9 ConnachtBenetton Treviso vs Connacht Report
Friday , October 3
Connacht 24 - 24 Cardiff Blues
Friday , September 26
Glasgow 39 - 21 Connacht
Friday , September 19
Connacht 10 - 9 Leinster
Friday , September 12
Edinburgh 13 - 14 Connacht
Saturday , September 6
Connacht 16 - 11 Newport Gwent D'gons
More Guinness PRO12 results
  • Table
Guinness PRO12 Table
PosTeamPPts
3Ulster622
4Munster619
5Connacht618
6Leinster616
7Scarlets614