Preview: Connacht v Dragons

04th Jan 2013, 12:36

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Return: Fetu'u Vainikolo

Return: Fetu'u Vainikolo

Connacht coach Eric Elwood has made two personnel and two positional changes to the team that played Leinster last Saturday.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood has made two personnel and also two positional tweaks to the XV that played Leinster for their meeting with the Dragons.

The province has been boosted by the return from injury of Fetu'u Vainikolo. The Tongan winger is the only change to the backline and is named alongside Robbie Henshaw and Danie Poolman.

The front row trio of Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright and Nathan White (captain) remains while Mike McCarthy is alongside Michael Swift.

Meanwhile, in the back row, versatile forward George Naoupu returns to his regular number eight position and Eoin McKeon is moved to 7.

Connacht speedsters Tonderai Chavhanga and Adam Hughes both return to tackle the Irishmen.

Scrum-half Wayne Evans is included in the line-up amongst the men of Gwent. Jonathan Evans will be joined on the bench by Ashley Smith.

The forwards are again rewarded for their impressive performances after both derby matches and remain in the team. There are no other changes to the regional side's team who last faced the Ospreys at home in the RaboDirect Pro 12 league on New Year's Eve.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Eoin McKeon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (capt), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 tbc, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (capt), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Dan Way, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Ashley Smith, 23 Jack Dixon.

Date: Saturday, January 5
Kick-off: 17:00
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Kevin Beggs (Ireland)
Assessor: Bertie Smith (Ireland)