Connacht quartet come through return unscathed, but Ronaldson may sit out next week

Tiernan O’Halloran returned from Ireland camp just in time to replace the centre.

CONNACHT MAY HAVE to plan without Craig Ronaldson for next weekend’s clash with Treviso after the centre picked up a thigh strain in the province’s Pro12 win over Cardiff.

Ronaldson aggravated his upper leg in the pre-match warm-up and eventually had to be replaced after 28 minutes in the 18-7 win at the Sportsground.

Ronaldson missed the start of this season with a similar injury and last night’s game was his first outing since a concussion saw him replaced during Connacht’s loss to Leinster at the RDS.

Lam was delighted to see Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney and Nepia Fox-Matamua come through unscathed on their returns to action, but Ronaldson was not so fortunate.

That knock in the warm-up meant John Cooney was handed the kicking tee in his first game since the Pro12 final six months ago, and Lam is pleased that he now has a few more options in key positions.

“Craig is a worry, another knock,” said Lam. “He felt his quad during the warm up and that’s why we gave John Cooney the goal-kicking.

John Cooney kicks a conversion James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“We thought he’d get through but it is a concern for Craig because he’s a vital cog for us. But when we play without him, the next guy has to step up.

“That’s our only major injury concern besides bumps and bruises but it was good to see Denis, Nepia, Tom and John Cooney returning. John Cooney did particularly well too.”

After spending the week training with Ireland in preparation for Australia, Tiernan O’Halloran was a late addition to the Connacht team sheet and it was the Clifden back that replaced Ronaldson.

Cian Kelleher and Pat Lam after the game Lam congratulates Cian Kelleher at full-time. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“Tiernan was a last-minute. He was up training with the Irish team yesterday, full training. He got back late afternoon. He slipped in and we obviously needed him when Craig went down.

“It wasn’t perfect but we just needed to get the win and we said that right through. We and some pretty tough sessions last week and we were pretty angry with ourselves for the Leinster and the Dragons games.

“We were still a little bit rusty but we ground out the win. Playing these guys, I said before the game, it’s a strong side. You look at the win/loss rate, they’ve pretty much dominated us over the years so to get the win, we’re pretty pleased.”

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