Connacht look to face-off with “agile” Welsh Dragons

Galway Daily rugby Four changes made to starting XV for Connacht v Glasgow

Connacht are looking ahead to the next GuinnessPRO14 match against the Dragons this weekend, and anticipating a tough match up.

They will be headed over to Newport to face against an agile and fast moving Welsh side, and hope to mimic the efficiency of attack that helped deliver a 36-26 win over Edinburgh.

Connacht defence coach Pete Wilkins praised the “power and physicality” new addition New Zealander Abraham Papalii’i has brought to that attacking side, calling him a “great addition to the squad”.

That power, especially around ball carries, is “clear for all to see, even in those few minutes he had in the unfortunate Munster game.

With that comes an ability to offload and to get others involved in the game. Certainly that’s something I think we’ll see more and more of as he gets more game time.”

Abraham Papalii’i made his first start of the season in Edinburgh, where he carries for 24 metres from five carries and beat two defenders at Number 8.

His defensive game carries that same power, Wilkins said, adding that Papalii’i likes to “hit hard” and always be around the ball.

“That physicality and that power of the tackle technique is something that, if we can continue to work on the accuracy and consistency of that, allied with his natural power we can get someone who is a really effective defender. The more he plays the better, from all aspects.”

Connacht v Dragons will take place at Rodney Parade, Newport in South Wales this Saturday, with kick-off at 5:15pm.

The Welsh side are extremely “mobile and skilful” Wilkins said, picking out the half-back pairing of Rhodri Williams and Sam Davies as particularly effective.

Against this he said that Connacht have to bring the same strengths they showed at Murrayfield on their trip to Rodney Parade.

“I thought in that Edinburgh game, it was one of the best examples of game management that this team has produced, certainly in my time here,” the former Queensland Reds coach said.”

Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, and Tom Daly “controlled the game” with effective kicking from Connacht’s side of the field, something that is also a strength for Wales.

“How we can pressure those kicking games will be important. Under their new coaching staff, they’ve got, there’s an organisation about them, an intent to play and if you give them front foot ball they will offload.”