The upcoming away game against the Dragons this Friday is a “must win” for Connacht after the past few weeks Head Coach Andy Friend has said.
Connacht are headed over to Wales to face the Dragons in the Guinness PRO14 at Rodney Field tomorrow, with the match kicking off at 7:35pm.
It will be a welcome trip away from home after the Eagles suffered two successive defeats to Munster and the Ospreys on their home turf at the Sportsground so far this year.
Despite recent losses, Andy Friend remains optimistic about tomorrow’s game, noting that their performance away from home has been solid recently.
Connacht’s last away game was against Leinster at the RDS Arena. In their first match of 2021 Connacht broke a streak to secure their first away victory against Leinster in almost two decades.
The Irish side will also be coming into the game well rested after a week off following the loss to the Ospreys.
“While our home form has been disappointing we’ve had honest reviews of what’s gone wrong and the reaction in training has been good,” Andy Friend said.
“Our away form has been a positive for us this season, so we’ll look to keep that going tomorrow albeit against tough opposition and a tough place to go in Rodney Parade.”
Finlay Bealham and Jack Carty will be hitting a major milestone with Connacht on Friday, as they both line out for the 150th time with the province.
Gavin Thornbury and Paul Boyle will also be marking their 50th cap each for Connacht, while, Oisin Dowling, among the replacements, is in line to make his Connacht debut after recovering from a long-term back injury.
Regarding his team selection Friend added “We’ve a number of players earning significant caps tomorrow so I’d like to congratulate Finlay, Jack, Gavin and Paul on the milestones.
“We’ve also got Oisin Dowling in line for his first appearance which has been long overdue after his back injury, and that’s a testament to him and the medical department.”
“Overall we’ve a pretty healthy squad which is a boost heading into a key part of the season.”
CONNACHT MATCHDAY 23 VS DRAGONS RUGBY
Friday 5th February, Rodney Parade, k/o 7.35pm
Name/Number/Caps (* denotes uncapped)
15. John Porch (30)
14. Peter Sullivan (8)
13. Tom Daly (37)
12. Peter Robb (46)
11. Matt Healy (143)
10. Jack Carty (149)
9. Caolin Blade (121)
1. Denis Buckley (191)
2. Shane Delahunt (89)
3. Finlay Bealham (149)
4. Niall Murray (9)
5. Gavin Thornbury (49)
6. Paul Boyle (49) (C)
7. Conor Oliver (13)
8. Abraham Papali’i (5)
16. Jonny Murphy (11)
17. Jordan Duggan (6)
18. Jack Aungier (9)
19. Oisin Dowling *
20. Eoghan Masterson (101)
21. Kieran Marmion (175)
22. Sean O’Brien (Acad) (2)
23. Alex Wootton (12)
image credit: Connacht Rugby/INPHO