Published: 12:20 | 7/5/21

Connacht and Leinster teams named


Connacht and Leinster have named their teams for tomorrow night's Rainbow Cup round two meeting at The Sportsground (LIVE on eir sport 1 from 7.15pm).

Fresh from their dramatic injury-time victory over Ulster in round one, Connacht head coach Andy Friend will be looking to make it two wins from two and has made five changes to the side that started in Belfast.

Skipper Jarrad Butler returns for his first appearance in almost two months following suspension and injury, while stalwart Denis Buckley comes into the front row to make his 198th appearance.

The other changes see Niall Murray start in the second row, Conor Fitzgerald at out-half and, following his heroics against Ulster, Peter Sullivan is named on the wing.

On the other wing, record try scorer Matt Healy makes his 150th appearance for the province, with Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Sean O’Brien and  John Porch completing the starting backs.

Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham join Buckley up front, with Gavin Thornbury named alongside Murray in the engine room. 

Butler starts at number eight alongside flankers Eoghan Masterson and Conor Oliver.

Sammy Arnold is named on the bench after four months out following chest surgery.

"We had a great win last time out in Belfast, but as always this year it’s now about backing that up and getting some consistency going," Friend commented. 

"Leinster will travel to The Sportsground wanting to avoid three defeats so that’s a challenge in itself, but we’re also confident we can put in a performance capable of getting a win.

"We’ve got a few players returning from injury which is always good, and Matt Healy hits a significant milestone as well so we’re very pleased with the team we’re able to select.”

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named three 2021 Lions in his squad, with Andrew Porter and Jack Conan starting and Tadhg Furlong on the bench.

Hugo Keenan starts at full back, with Cian Kelleher and Dave Kearney on the wings.

Ciarán Frawley and Garry Ringrose are named in the centre, with skipper Luke McGrath partnered by Ross Byrne in the half-backs.

The pack sees seven changes to the team that started in the Champions Cup semi-final defeat to La Rochelle last weekend. 

Peter Dooley and James Tracy join Porter in the front row, with Ross Molony and Scott Fardy combining at four and five. 

Scott Penny and Josh Murphy start in the back row alongside Conan who is the only forward to be retained from last week.

Connacht:  John Porch, Peter Sullivan, Sean O’Brien, Tom Daly, Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler (c).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cian Prendergast, Abraham Papali’I, Kieran Marmion, Sammy Arnold, Oran McNulty.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan, Cian Kelleher, Garry Ringrose, Ciarán Frawley, Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (c), Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Ed Byrne, Tadhg Furlong, Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Rowan Osborne, Rory O’Loughlin, Jordan Larmour.

Image: Sportsfile

***See EIGHT Rainbow Cup games LIVE on eir sport this weekend.

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