Preview: Connacht v Treviso

Date published: December 2 2016

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made four personnel and two positional changes to his side to face Treviso.

Marnitz Boshoff has been handed his first start in a Connacht jersey having come off the bench in the win over Cardiff Blues seven days ago. The South African is partnered by scrum-half and last week's try scorer and placekicker John Cooney.

Cian Kelleher shifts from full-back to right wing to allow Ireland international Tiernan O'Halloran wear number 15.  With Matt Healy returning from injury to start on the left wing and Craig Ronaldson ruled out, Stacey Ili moves into midfield to partner Bundee Aki.

Having made his return from injury last week, Nepia Fox-Matamua is named to start at blindside flanker in an otherwise unchanged forward pack.

Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Sean O'Brien and Rory Parata are all additions to the match day squad with Academy graduate Parata in line to make his first appearance of the season.

Commenting on the upcoming game, Pat Lam said: "After an important result last week, it's great to be back at home for another crucial game in the PRO12.

"We know we are expected to win this game against Treviso tomorrow but we can only do that on the back of solid preparation. It's been a good week together as a squad and we're excited to get out there to fight for more vital points before attention turns to Champions Cup rugby."

Meanwhile for Treviso, full-back will be David Odiete, on the wings Angelo Esposito and Luca Sperandio. Michael Tagicakibau and captain Alberto Sgarbi will be the centres. The half backs are Tito Tebaldi at scrum-half and Ian McKinley at fly-half.

The front row will consist of Alberto Sgarbi, Davide Giazzon and Simone Ferrari. Locks will be Marco Lazzaroni and Marco Fuser. Finally, the back row sees Abraham Steyn, Roberto Santamaria and Marco Barbini completing the XV by head coach Kieron Crowley.

Form: Connacht have won their last four matches at The Sportsground in all tournaments since Ospreys beat them there in the PRO12 on 10 September. Connacht’s only defeat to an Italian side since October 2013 came when they visited Treviso in Round 21 last season. Treviso have lost their last five PRO12 fixtures since beating the Dragons at Stadio Monigo in Round 4. The Italians are without a win on the road in the PRO12 since beating Zebre in Parma in December 2014. Each side won its respective home game when the two teams met last season, whilst Treviso’s only previous success in Galway was 15-13 in December 2011. 

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Stacey Ili, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 John Cooney, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Sean O'Brien, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Rory Parata

Treviso: 15 David Odiete, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michael Tagicakibau, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (c), 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Roberto Santamaria, 6 Abraham Steyn, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Alberto De Marchi
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Matteo Zanusso, 19 Nicola Quaglio, 20 Vittorio Flammini, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Andrea Pratichetti

Date: Saturday, December 3
Venue: The Sportsground, Galway
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Gareth Newman (Wales), John Carvill (Ireland)