Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

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Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

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Preview: Connacht v Edinburgh

Paul Eddison 22 Mar 2018

As the Guinness PRO14 takes centre stage once again following the Six Nations, Connacht welcome high-flying Edinburgh to the Sportsground on Friday night.

The clash, which kicks off at 7.35pm, will see Richard Cockerill’s men looking to extend their winning run to six games against a side they have struggled to beat in recent seasons.

What’s at stake?

With five straight wins, Edinburgh are now well-placed to make the Finals Series with a nine-point advantage over Ulster in Conference B, albeit having played a game more.

They trail the Scarlets by six points and could yet earn themselves a home play-off game if they can extend their winning run even further.

Edinburgh face a Connacht side which currently sits in the Champions Cup play-off place, in fifth in Conference A.

With a three-point advantage over the Ospreys, this is a must-win game for Kieran Keane’s side in their bid to make Europe’s top tier next season.

Team news (Connacht)

Connacht welcome back Ireland international Quinn Roux, although his Test teammates Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane miss out.

Eoin McKeon is also back from injury in the back row, where he will start alongside Jarrad Butler and Sean O’Brien.

In the backline, Niyi Adeolokun comes into the back three, on the opposite wing to now record try-scorer Matt Healy.

Team news (Edinburgh)

Edinburgh have made five changes to the team that beat Munster last weekend, with Darryl Marfo back from an extended injury absence to start in the front row.

Blair Kinghorn returns from international duty and starts at full-back, while Grant Gilchrst and Simon Berghan come into the starting pack.

Finally Nathan Fowles takes over at scrum-half where he will partner Jaco van der Walt.

Talking points:

Connacht backs coach Nigel Carolan said: “They made life really difficult for Munster last Friday night. They turned them over several times at the breakdown and that’s uncharacteristic for Munster.

“You can see that there’s a real bite to them, there’s a real high level of fitness and physicality. They’re a tough team to play against. They very direct and confrontational and they’re a tough team to break down. That’s where our biggest focus has been this week, particularly around the breakdown.”

Edinburgh director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “We’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re working as hard as we can.

“Last week against Munster, I just wanted the boys to go out there and play as well as they could. The effort was just unbelievable, it’s where we want to be.

“We know how tough an opponent Connacht are – especially at home, where conditions aren’t always brilliant. But, we’re going there full of confidence that we can get a positive result.”

Key battle: Tiernan O’Halloran v Blair Kinghorn

The battle of the full-backs in Galway should be a cracker with the experienced Tiernan O’Halloran a constant threat for Connacht.

The Ireland international knows the conditions inside out at the Sportsground and regularly tops the metres made in the league.

This season he finds himself in second place, with the man in front of him, none other than Blair Kinghorn.

The youngster, who made his Test debut during the Six Nations, and his first start away to Ireland, has made 1,088 metres in all, and with his height, he is a real asset at the back.

Both defence coaches will keep a close eye on the men in the No.15 jersey.

Key stat: Edinburgh are unbeaten in the Guinness PRO14 in 2018, having won five matches in a row. Their last loss came against Glasgow Warriors in December.

Did you know? Connacht have won the last four fixtures against Edinburgh, while they won the title in 2016 at Edinburgh’s home ground, BT Murrayfield.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (c), Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, Sean O’Brien

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Dominic Robertson McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader

Edinburgh Rugby: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Nathan Fowles, Darryl Marfo, Neil Cochrane, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist (c), Magnus Bradbury, John Hardie, Bill Mata.

Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Jordan Lay, WP Nel, Lewis Carmichael, Cornell du Preez, Sean Kennedy, Duncan Weir, Phil Burleigh

TV: Live on TG4 and BBC Alba

Match Officials – Referee: George Clancy (IRFU), AR1: David Wilkinson (IRFU), AR2: Shane Kierans (IRFU), TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start from just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Weir whips up Edinburgh success at Connacht

Daniel Barnes 23 Mar 2018

Replacement Duncan Weir came off the bench to inspire Edinburgh Rugby to victory at Connacht.

Two chargedowns bookended an Edinburgh performance that saw them claim a sixth straight Guinness PRO14 victory, Dougie Fife giving his team the lead in the blink of an eye before Weir, who also kicked three penalties, helped Richard Cockerill’s troops run out 29-22 winners.

Success at the Sportsground also means that Edinburgh have now defeated all four Irish provinces in 2017-18.

The visitors got off to a rip-roaring start by going over with 10 seconds on the clock.

Connacht received possession from kick-off but Tiernan O’Halloran’s attempted boot forward was charged down by John Hardie, with Fife winning the race to the redirected ball, crashing over the line to put his team on the board in a flash.

A Jaco van der Walt penalty put Edinburgh 8-0 up but with 12 minutes on the clock, Connacht hit back with a well-worked move, Magnus Bradbury feeding the ball to O’Halloran to blaze forward and dot down, Jack Carty adding the extras.

In the 17th minute, Connacht got their noses in front with their second score of the game, turning over possession from the breakdown before patiently carving out an opportunity to bid for the try line, Carty turning provider for Thomas Farrell to go over, the former converting.

Momentum would swing back in the other direction shortly afterwards however as Edinburgh burst back into life, swept the ball out to the left flank and teed up Duhan van der Merwe to claim his third try in two matches.

A Carty penalty that made it 17-13 would prove to be the final act of the first period and in the opening throes of the second, the two teams largely struggled to break each other down.

It took until just after the hour mark for the scoreboard to be affected again, Weir bisecting the posts to haul his side back to within a point of their hosts but then, back came Connacht.

The home side went on the offensive and drove their way to the whitewash, with Finlay Bealham eventually sneaking over to make it 22-16.

Weir hit another penalty to keep the contest finely poised and then, the fly-half provided a decisive turn.

The 26-year-old gave chase after charging down a kick from Craig Ronaldson and the rebound left him with time and space to seize upon the loose ball for his team’s third try of the game, Weir adding the extras before booting a last-gasp penalty to round things off.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start from just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138