Two teams whose results have been going in opposite directions of late will go head-to-head tonight (7.35pm) at the new DAM Health Stadium in Murrayfield as Connacht battle for a third straight win and Edinburgh look to a fourth straight defeat avoid.
ood wins away to Scarlets and home to Stormers after losing four in a row in all competitions has put Connacht’s season back on track and they can close the gap with Edinburgh, who are six points ahead of them in the URC table the fifth place. Edinburgh had gone top of the table with five straight wins each side at Christmas but the Six Nations have hit them hard and they have lost consecutive away games to Ospreys, Munster and Leinster.
Now Connacht senior trainer Pete Wilkins is hoping their new 4G pitch, next to the international stadium at Murrayfield, will be the perfect launching pad as they try to stay in contention for league honors and Champions Cup qualification.
The surface should match the kind of game Connacht is trying to play this season and even with seven changes from the side that beat the Stormers last time out, Wilkins counts on them being able to thrive.
“It’s built for fast rugby and I think you often get the best out of those artificial surfaces in the first season or two,” Wilkins said.
“They tend to get harder over time the more they’re used and pack up and the bounce can change. It’s a good pitch. Players look forward to playing it and are happy that we’re able to play on a fast pitch and take our game to that kind of surface.”
Head coach Andy Friend and his management team have made seven changes, five up front. Jack Carty’s return from the Irish camp sees a new half-back partnership. He takes over for Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade replaces Kieran Marmion.
Hooker Dave Heffernan has also been dropped from the national squad, replacing Shane Delahunt in a new front row that will start Jordan Duggan and Jack Aungier in place of Denis Buckley and Tietie Tuimauga.
Oisín Dowling starts this time around with Niall Murray on the bench, while Conor Oliver comes into the back row in place of captain Jarrad Butler while Carty skips the side as they attempt to go three wins in a game for the first time against a side a year from Edinburgh who missed nine internationals.
Edinburgh—H. Immelman; Moyano R, Lang J, Dean C, Boffelli E; B Kinghorn, H Pyrgos; B Venter, D Cherry, A Williams; P Phillips, G Young; B. Muncaster, C. Boyle, M. Kunavula. Substitutes: A McBurney, H Courtney, L Atalifo, J Campbell, R Brown, B Vellacott, J van der Walt, M Currie.
Connacht—J Porch; Sullivan P, Arnold S, Daly T, Wootton A; J Carty, C Blade; J Duggan, D Heffernan, J Aungier; O Dowling, L Fifita; C Prendergast, C Oliver, P Boyle. Substitutes: S. Delahunt, T. Tuimauga, D. Robertson-McCoy, N. Murray, A. Papali’i, K. Marmion, T. Farrell, J. Butler.
Edinburgh vs Connacht,
Live, TG4, 7.35
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/pro14/peter-wilkins-hoping-fast-4g-surface-can-keep-spring-in-connachts-step-41409582.html Peter Wilkins hopes a fast 4G surface can keep up with Spring in Connacht