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Blade returns for Connacht as Friend's men take on Benetton in Galway

The westerners have been unfortunate with postponements so far this season.

Blade is back from a hamstring injury.
Blade is back from a hamstring injury.
Image: Craig Watson/INPHO

CONNACHT BOSS ANDY Friend has been able to recall scrum-half Caolin Blade for his side’s rearranged Guinness Pro14 clash with Benetton at the Sportsground tomorrow [KO 7.35pm, TG4]. 

26-year-old Blade has been sidelined with a hamstring injury in recent weeks but makes his return in the only change to the Connacht side that was due to play last weekend.

Friend’s men didn’t play last Saturday after their scheduled clash with the Ospreys was postponed because of Covid-19 cases in the Welsh region’s squad, the third time the western province had seen a game pushed back this season.

Connacht have stuck with a settled side for tomorrow’s meeting with Benetton, with Paul Boyle set to captain the team for the first time.

Ultan Dillane, released from Ireland camp for the weekend, has been included on the Connacht bench, while academy centre Sean O’Brien is set for his debut as a replacement.

Meanwhile, former Connacht man Ian Keatley starts at inside centre for the Italians.

This fixture against Benetton was originally scheduled to take place on 1 November but was postponed due to Covid-19 cases in the Italian club at that time. 

Connacht:

15. John Porch 
14. Peter Sullivan 
13. Sammy Arnold 
12. Tom Daly 
11. Alex Wootton
10. Conor Fitzgerald
9. Caolin Blade

1. Denis Buckley
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Jack Aungier 
4. Eoghan Masterson
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Conor Oliver 
8. Paul Boyle (captain)

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Replacements:

16. Jonny Murphy
17. Paddy McAllister
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Ultan Dillane 
20. Jarrad Butler
21. Colm Reilly
22. Sean O’Brien
23. Matt Healy

Benetton:

15. Jayden Hayward
14. Ratuva Tavuyara
13. Tommaso Benvenuti
12. Ian Keatley
11. Tommaso Menoncello
10. Dewaldt Duvenage (captain)
9. Callum Braley

1. Nicola Quaglio
2. Tomas Baravalle
3. Filippo Alongi
4. Irné Herbst
5. Federico Ruzza
6. Giovanni Pettinelli
7. Marco Barbini
8. Toa Halafihi

Replacements:

16. Giacomo Nicotera
17. Ivan Nemer
18. Tiziano Pasquali
19. Riccardo Favretto
20. Alberto Sgarbi
21. Manuel Zuliani
22. Luca Petrozzi
23. Joaquin Riera

Referee: Adam Jones [WRU].

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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