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Dublin: 19 °C Monday 1 June, 2020
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Lam not taking Challenge Cup lightly as he makes just one change for the visit of Bayonne

As expected, Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw misses out through injury.

Connacht are unbeaten at home this season.
Connacht are unbeaten at home this season.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT’S PRIMARY FOCUS may be on the Guinness Pro12 but Pat Lam is taking the European Challenge Cup every bit as seriously by making just one change to his side for the visit of Bayonne on Saturday evening.

The Westerners have had a mixed start to their campaign having won one and lost one and they have ground to make up on Pool 2 leaders Exeter Chiefs.

Connacht’s home form has been imperious this season and Lam has targeted another strong showing at the Sportsgrounds to boost their chances of progression.

Robbie Henshaw is the most notable absentee having failed to recover from a hip injury but All Black legend Mils Muliaina will make his third start in as many weeks at the Galway venue.

In the one change from the side that defeated Scarlets last week, Mick Kearney returns to the second-row in place of Andrew Browne while Michael Swift has been included among the substitutes.

“Protecting our home ground is one of our main priorities and that drive continues this week. We have chosen a strong side to face Bayonne on Saturday in what is our last home game of the year,” Lam said.

“We’ve stated Top 6 in the PRO12 as a big goal but we also have other aspirations to reach the knock out stages in the Challenge Cup. Bayonne are a good side who have taken some big scalps in the Top 14 this season, namely Toulouse and Clermont.

“There are no easy wins in this pool and we are expecting a bruising battle on Saturday against a physically massive team.”

Connacht are unbeaten at home this season and another victory on front of their own fans would set the platform for progression.

Kick-off is at 5pm.

Connacht:

15. Mils Muliaina
14. Danie Poolman
13. Bundee Aki
12. Dave McSharry
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Mick Kearney
5. Quinn Roux
6. John Muldoon (captain)
7. Eoin McKeon
8. George Naoupu

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Ronan Loughney
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Michael Swift
20. Willie Faloon
21. Caolin Blade
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Darragh Leader

Axel Foley rings the changes as international stars return for heavyweight clash with Clermont

Ulster boosted by the return of Ruan Pienaar for make-or-break game against Scarlets

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Ryan Bailey

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