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Preview: Connacht v Ospreys

25th November 2011 10:52

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Tom Smith

Tom Smith: Takes over the captaincy

Injuries and international call-ups mean that Ospreys head to the Sportground without a number of first choice players.

The Welsh outfit have lost seven players to the national team, with Warren Gatland's men facing Australia next weekend.

Added to that, a further eight players are unavailable due to injury.

Despite this, head coach Sean Holley is able to name a fairly strong line-up for a game that he knows will be a had-fought encounter.

"Connacht away at the Sportground is always a tough fixture It's a difficult place to play with tough conditions and a partisan crowd, so it's going to be a real experience for some of the youngsters in the squad who may not have played there before. We were very fortunate to secure the win at the Liberty earlier in the season so we are well aware of what to expect on Saturday night," he said

Connacht coach Eric Elwood has been forced into making three personnel changes for the game.

Eoin Griffin (hamstring injury), Mike McCarthy (suspended) and Michael Swift (knee injury) are all unavailable for the match.

George Naoupu replaces Swift in the second row while Henry Fa'afili comes into the midfield in place of Griffin. TJ Anderson comes off the bench to take over te number six jersey from McCarthy.

Form: Connacht have slipped to six straight defeats in all competitions, since their 17-13 victory against Newport Gwent Dragons at the Galway Sportsground on 23 September. Ospreys sit at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table and are unbeaten in their last three matches in all competitions, a sequence which includes two draws. The Welshmen have won all four contests they have played against Irish opponents so far this campaign. Connacht have not beaten Ospreys since 9 May 2008 when the Welsh Region visited the Sportsground and perished 24-20.

The teams:

Connacht:
15 Gavin Duffy (C), 14 Brian Tuohy, 13 Dave McSharry, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Paul O'Donohoe, 8 Ray Ofisa, 7 John Muldoon, 6 TJ Anderson, 5 George Naoupu, 4 Dave Gannon, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Stewart Maguire, 19 Mike Kearney, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Mark McCrea.

Ospreys:
15 Barry Davies, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Chauncey O'Toole, 6 Tom Smith (Capt), 5 James King, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Cai Griffiths, 18 Joe Rees, 19 James Goode, 20 George Stowers, 21 Tom Isaacs, 22 Sonny Parker, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Date: Saturday, November 26
Kick-off: 18:30
Venue: Sportsground
Referee: Andrew McMenemy
Assistant referees: Michael Black, Barrie O'Connell
Television match official: Seamus Flannery

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  • Table
Pool 5
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PosTeamPPts
1Racing Metro Paris28
2Northampton25
3Ospreys25
4Treviso20