Planet Rugby

Preview: Biarritz v Connacht

13th December 2012 12:30

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SKY_MOBILE Robbie Henshaw Connacht tackling Takudzwa Ngwenya Biarritz

Collision: Ngwenya and Henshaw

Imanol Harinodoquy returns to captain Biarritz at number eight for Friday's Heineken Cup rematch with Connacht.

Following Connacht's upset defeat in Galway in Round 3, Harinodoquy starts along with Damien Traille, Julien Peyrelongue, Jean-Pascal Barraque and Pelu Taele, with Magnus Lund named amongst the replacements.

Biarritz coaches Serge Milhas and Jack Issac were sacked following last Friday's loss, leaving manager Laurent Rodriguez and academy director Mathieu Rourre in charge of selection for this week's game.

The Top 14 outfit have become the great enigma of the Heineken Cup, proving they can cut it with the best sides in Europe but then being caught cold against teams they are expected to beat - like Connacht.

Biarritz know their chances of reaching a ninth quarter-final in European rugby's premier tournament are probably over for this season but a win would mean they could still make an impact on this Pool.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Eric Elwood has named his side which shows only one change to the starting XV following last Friday's 22-14 win over the former Heineken Cup finalists.

Johnny O'Connor replaces Willie Faloon in the back row where he is joined by Andrew Browne and Eoin McKeon. Faloon was ruled out of selection earlier this week due to a fractured eye socket he incurred at the Sportsground on Friday.

Dan Parks will lead his side out tomorrow night as Connacht look for a historic French double. Parks is this season's leading points scorer on 48 points, bringing his all-time total to 403 points. The out-half is two points short of reaching the half-century mark in the Heineken Cup for the fifth time in eight seasons.

19 year old Robbie Henshaw, who this week signed a full contract with Connacht Rugby, will line out at full-back. On the bench, forwards Nathan White and George Naoupu make a welcome return to the squad having both missed out on last week's round three clash.

The teams:

Biarritz: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Julien Peyrelongue, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy (c), 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Pelu Taele, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Benoit August, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Philippe Genevois, 17 Lodewicus Blaauw, 18 Thomas Synaeghe, 19 Thibault Dubarry, 20 Magnus Lundy, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Seremaïa Burotu, 23 Marcelo Bosch.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Jason Harris Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Dennis Buckley, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Danny Qualter, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Matthew Jarvis.

Date: Friday, December 14
Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Parc des Sports Aguiléra
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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