herald

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Champs to do Italian Job

Pat Lam
Pat Lam

South African Marnitz Boshoff will start for the first time in front of Connacht's raucous home support against Treviso at The Sportsground today (KO3.0), writes Des Berry.

The will also have the knife-through-butter penetration of Matt Healy back on the left wing.

Nepia Fox-Matamua will join Jake Heenan and captain John Muldoon in the back row.

"After an important result last week, it's great to be back at home for another crucial game in the Guinness PRO12," said coach Pat Lam.

"We know we are expected to win this game against Treviso, but we can only do that on the back of solid preparation.

"It's been a good week together as a squad and we're excited to get out there to fight for more vital points before attention turns to Champions Cup rugby."

Connacht have picked up the pace in Galway where they have won their last three.

This should be number four.

The Cardiff Blues will have their pair of aces Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins back in the pack to host Ulster at The Arms Park this evening (KO5.15 Sky Sports 3).

Ireland international Iain Henderson has been released to start for Les Kiss.

It is the foreign influence that will count for most as Charles Piutau, Ruan Pienaar, Wiehahn Herbst and Franco van der Merwe provide a rigid spine to work from in what well could be the match of the weekend.

Connacht: T O'Halloran; C Kelleher, B Aki, S Ili, M Healy; M Boshoff, J Cooney; D Buckley, T McCartney, C Carey, Q Roux, J Cannon, N Fox-Matamua, J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt).

Treviso: D Odiete; A Esposito, M Tagicakibau, A Sgarbi (capt), L Sperandio; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; A de Marchi, D Giazzon, S Ferrari, M Lazzaroni, M Fuser, A Steyn, R Santamaria, M Barbini.

Verdict: Connacht

Cardiff: B Scully; A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, T James; S Shingler, L Williams; G Jenkins (capt), K Dacey, T Filise, G Earle, J Turnbull, E Jenkins, S Warburton, J Navidi.

Ulster: C Piutau; T Bowe, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; B Herron, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring (capt), W Herbst, P Browne, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy.

Verdict: Cardiff

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