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Aki's back as Connacht close in on Challenge Cup quarter-finals

He’s one of three Irish internationals returning for Kieran Keane’s men.

Bundee Aki returns to the Connacht starting XV.
Bundee Aki returns to the Connacht starting XV.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRISH INTERNATIONALS BUNDEE Aki, Ultan Dillane and Kieran Marmion return to Kieran Keane’s Connacht side as they travel to Sixways to take on Worcester Warriors in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (Kick off: 3pm).

With James Cannon ruled out through injury, Dillane’s return is a welcome boost to the Connacht pack where he’s joined in the second row by Quinn Roux.

Peter McCabe, who made his first start against Munster, is picked at loosehead alongside Dave Heffernan at hooker and tighthead Conor Carey.

In the back row, Eoghan Masterson returns at blindside having been rested last week, with Jarrad Butler on the openside and captain John Muldoon, who started in Connacht’s last victory in Sixways back in 2009, lining out at number 8.

Marmion returns to form a new half-back pairing with Craig Ronaldson, as Jack Carty is rested from the 23, while the backs are boosted by Aki’s return to form a centre partnership with Tom Farrell.

The back three are Tiernan O’Halloran at fullback, with Darragh Leader and Niyi Adeolokun on the wings.

A win for Connacht will secure top spot in Pool 5 of the competition and a place in the quarter-finals with a game to spare.

Connacht:

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Darragh Leader
13. Bundee Aki
12. Tom Farrell
11. Niyi Adeolokun
10. Craig Ronaldson
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Peter McCabe
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Conor Carey
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Quinn Roux
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Jarrad Butler
8. John Muldoon (Captain)

Replacements:

16. Shane Delahunt
17. Denis Coulson
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Gavin Thornbury
20. Naulia Dawai
21. Caolin Blade
22. Eoin Griffin
23. Cian Kelleher

Worcester

15. Josh Adams
14. Perry Humphreys
13. Chris Pennell
12. Ryan Mills
11. Dean Hammond
10. Jamie Shillcock
9. Francois Hougaard

1. Ethan Waller
2. Jack Singleton
3. Simon Kerrod
4. Darren Barry
5. Pierce Phillips
6. David Denton
7. Sam Lewis
8. GJ van Velze

Replacements:

16. Matti Williams
17. Ryan Bower
18. Bi Alo
19. Huw Taylor
20. Matt Cox
21. Michael Dowsett
22. Sam Olver
23. Ben Howard

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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