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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 9 December, 2018
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Dillane starts for Connacht against Cheetahs in Bloemfontein

The Ireland second row has travelled to South Africa for this weekend’s Pro14 game.

Dillane (left) facing Oyonnax in the Challenge Cup.
Dillane (left) facing Oyonnax in the Challenge Cup.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

ULTAN DILLANE IS back in the Connacht team for Saturday’s Pro14 clash away to Toyota Cheetahs (5.35pm Irish time).

The lock missed Ireland’s Six Nations win over Italy to attend his mother’s funeral, but came off the bench early in the province’s narrow victory in Treviso last weekend.

He was expected to rejoin the international squad but, instead, became available for the trip to Bloemfontein — where Connacht feature in a round 17 fixture at the Toyota Stadium.

The only other change to personnel sees centre Pita Ahki in for Thomas Farrell, who isn’t involved.

“I think everyone is familiar with their style of play,” said Connacht head coach Kieran Keane, who has experience coaching in Super Rugby. “They play some really exciting and attacking rugby. They played like that when they came to the Sportsground and they were hard to beat. They are even harder to beat when they are playing at home and only one team has managed it since they joined the Pro14.

It’s a massive challenge but one we are really relishing. We will be focusing on our game plan and what we can control and hopefully delivering a winning performance on Saturday.”

Captain John Muldoon added: “The game will be kicking off at 7.35pm in the evening South African time so hopefully heat won’t be as big of a factor as during the day. We have trained in the middle of the day all week so by the time the game comes on Saturday evening we should be well adjusted to it. But the conditions are only one part of the game and it can be an excuse if you want it to be.

“There is no doubt that Cheetahs are a very good attacking side. If you give them time and space they will hurt you. We have to be smart in how we play the game and we don’t want to give them huge opportunities to run the ball. If we fall into that trap we will be in big trouble regardless of other factors.”

Connacht (v Cheetahs)

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Cian Kelleher
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Pita Ahki
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. James Cannon
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Jarrad Butler
8 John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements

16. Shane Delahunt
17. Denis Coulson
18. Dominic Robertson McCoy
19. Gavin Thornbury
20. Eoghan Masterson
21. James Mitchell
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Niyi Adeolokun

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