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Connacht make 7 changes for crucial game for their Champions Cup prospects

Kieran Keane’s team travel to Wales to take on an Ospreys side they trail by just a single point.

Jarrad Butler will captain Connacht for the first time.
Jarrad Butler will captain Connacht for the first time.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Kieran Keane has named his side for tomorrow’s Guinness Pro14 meeting with Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium [KO 7.35pm].

Keane has made seven changes in personnel from last weekend’s defeat to Gloucester in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

With Connacht no longer able to secure Champions Cup rugby for next season via their European exploits, tomorrow’s game is particularly crucial for the western province — for reasons we’ve explained here. Connacht trail fifth-placed Ospreys by a single point in Conference A.

Keane has selected a new midfield pairing, with Eoin Griffin and Peter Robb taking over from Grand Slam winner Bundee Aki — who’s being afforded a rest — and Tom Farrell.

The other five changes are in the pack. Shane Delahunt and Conor Carey replace Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham in the front row. Ultan Dillane and James Cannon come into the second row in place of Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux, who’s also rested.

Jarrad Butler will captain the side for the first time. He’s joined in the back row by Eoin McKeon, who moves from 6 to 8 at the expense of John Muldoon, as Sean O’Brien fills the vacancy at blindside flanker.

Connacht:

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Peter Robb
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Conor Carey
4. Ultan Dillane
5. James Cannon
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Jarrad Butler (captain)
8. Eoin McKeon

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Peter McCabe
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Gavin Thornbury
20. John Muldoon
21. Caolin Blade
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Darragh Leader

Ospreys:

15. Dan Evans
14. Jeff Hassler
13. Kieron Fonotia
12. Ashley Beck
11. Hanno Dirksen
10. Dan Biggar
9. Tom Habberfield

1. Nicky Smith
2. Scott Otten
3. Dmitri Arhip
4. Bradley Davies
5. Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
6. Guy Mercer
7. Sam Cross
8. James King

Replacements:

16. Ifan Phillips
17. Rhodri Jones
18. Ma’afu Fia
19. Adam Beard
20. Morgan Morris
21. Matthew Aubrey
22. Sam Davies
23. Owen Watkin

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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