Preview: Treviso v Connacht

Date published: April 28 2016

Connacht will hope to consolidate their place at the summit of the PRO12 table – they are joint leaders with Leinster – when they face the basement dwelling Treviso at Stadio Monigo on Friday.

In a bid to salvage some pride in a rather dismal season, Treviso, who have only managed two wins from their last twenty matches, will be hoping to end off strong, a win however is highly unlikely for the home side.

Friday's match will also be Ludovico Nitoglia's last game for Treviso.

Added to the long list of injured players for the home side are Dean Budd and Alberto De Marchi, who are both suspended.

In the starting XV for Treviso, Jayden Hayward is named at full-back while Ludovico Nitoglia and Angelo Esposito will slot in at left and right wing respectively.

Luca Morisi and captain Alberto Sgarbi link up to form the centre pairing, while Sam Christie comes in at fly-half with Edoardo Gori at scrum-half.

Up front, props Matteo Zanusso and Simone Ferrari form the front row combination with the hooker Ornel Gega. In the second row, Filo Paulo and Tom Palmer are named as lock duo. 

And finally in the back row, Francesco Minto and Alessandro Zanni will pack down on either side of the scrum while Abraham Steyn wears the number eight jersey.

Meanwhile, Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made a number of changes to the team that defeated Munster less than two weeks ago.

Jack Carty and Tiernan O’Halloran both return from injury to start at fly-half and full-back respectively, while wing Fionn Carr and scrum-half John Cooney also gets named in the starting lineup. Rory Parata is named to start in an Academy midfield partnership with Peter Robb.

Up front, props Ronan Loughney and Rodney Ah You start in a front row with hooker Tom McCartney who captains the side for the second time this season.

Quinn Roux and Andrew Browne make up a new second row partnership while the back row is also changed with the return of openside Jake Heenan from injury. Eoin McKeon shifts to the back of the scrum with John Muldoon named on the bench as cover for the number eight.

Caolin Blade and the fit-again AJ MacGinty are included amongst the replacement backs alongside Ireland international Robbie Henshaw.

Form: Treviso have lost their last five PRO12 matches since beating Newport Gwent Dragons at home in Round 15 but are still within touching distance of Zebre for the automatic Italian Champion's Cup place next year. Treviso have not beaten an Irish province in any tournament since their 23-3 victory over Connacht at Stadio Monigo in October 2013. Connacht require just one more league point to qualify for the play-offs for the first time since the competition went home and away in 2003/04. The Irishmen's only defeat in the last eight rounds of PRO12 came at Ulster on April 1. Treviso have beaten Connacht just once since 2011 whilst Connacht's record at Stadio Monigo is an even won two, drawn one, lost two, but they have not scored a try at the venue since April 2013.

The teams:

Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (c), 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Cherif Traorè, 18 Salesi Manu, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Alberto Lucchese, 22 Luke McLean, 23 Tommaso Iannone

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Tom McCartney (c), 1 Ronan Loughney
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 John Muldoon, 21 Coalin Blade, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Robbie Henshaw

Date: Friday, April 29
Venue: Stadio Monigo
Kick-off: 19:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano (Italy), Stefano Bolzonella (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)