Three changes to Connacht lineup against Ulster tonight

Galway Daily sport CJoe Joyce excited to represent Galway roots with Connacht
photo credit: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Three changes have been made to the Connacht Rugby side which will face off against Ulster in the Rainbow Cup this evening.

Two of the changes from the last lineup are in the back, with Caolin Blade now in number 9 and Ben O’Donnell on the wing. Up front, John is coming in at at loosehead.

Otherwise the team is as selected against Leicester in the Challenge Cup, with the experienced duo of Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham joining Duggan in the front row.

A second row duo of Ultan Dillane and Gavin Thornbury, and a back row consisting of flankers Eoghan Masterson and Conor Oliver, and captain Paul Boyle at number 8 complete the roster.

Jack Carty partners Blade at out-half, Tom Daly and Sean O’Brien continue their centre partnership, and winger Matt Healy and full-back John Porch form the back three with O’Donnell.

“There is still huge disappointment with our Challenge Cup exit and our last few performances, so this is a game where I’m fully expecting a reaction from the players,” said Head Coach Andy Friend.

“This is a new competition for us but as with competition we play in, we’re going out to win it. Our team selection reflects that and if we play the way I know we can, we’ll give ourselves a great chance of making a positive start to the Rainbow Cup.”

The Rainbow Cup took a heavy blow earlier this week when the South African Rugby Union confirmed that their sides would not be coming due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

Instead two parallel competitions will take place, with twelve PRO14 teams in the north competing in one, and the four southern teams in another.

Connacht and Ulster will meet at Kingspan Stadium tonight, with kick-off at 8:15pm. The full Connacht side is:

15. John Porch (36)
14. Ben O’Donnell (4)
13. Sean O’Brien (Acad) (7)
12. Tom Daly (44)
11. Matt Healy (148)
10. Jack Carty (155)
9. Caolin Blade (127)
1. Jordan Duggan (11)
2. Dave Heffernan (140)
3. Finlay Bealham (155)
4. Ultan Dillane (110)
5. Gavin Thornbury (56)
6. Eoghan Masterson (107)
7. Conor Oliver (17)
8. Paul Boyle (55) (C)

16. Shane Delahunt (96)
17. Matthew Burke (20)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (63)
19. Niall Murray (13)
20. Abraham Papali’i (10)
21. Kieran Marmion (182)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (32)
23. Peter Sullivan (12)