In-form Connacht welcome Aironi
March 10, 2011
Fionn Carr will want to cause some damage against Aironi © PA Photos
Connacht have the opportunity to complete an Italian double on Friday night when they welcome Aironi to the Sportsground.
Having seen off Benetton Treviso 31-25 last weekend, Eric Elwood's side now take aim at the Magners League's basement side, who are still without a domestic win this season.
Connacht, meanwhile, have won five of their last six in all competitions and can move above the Dragons and into seventh with a win.
Connacht - Player to Watch: Tight-head Jamie Hagan has been generating headlines this season with some strong performances and will relish the chance to go up against a typically strong Italian pack.
Connacht - Team News: Elwood has made just one change, as a result of Sean Cronin's call-up to the Ireland bench. Adrian Flavin returns to the front-row at hooker as a result, while among the replacements there is a welcome return for skipper John Muldoon following a long layoff with a broken arm.
Aironi - Player to Watch: Flanker Josh Sole was in the Italy starting line-up as recently as their Six Nations opener against Ireland and will provide an injection of power alongside Nick Williams and Gareth Krause.
Aironi - Team News: Pietro Travagli has returned to Padova following a loan spell, meaning a recall for Tito Tebaldi at scrum-half alongside Ricardo Bocchino. Kiwi James Marshall switches to fullback.
Key Battle: Should Connacht get on a roll, as they have done on several occasions recently, then Aironi will have a job to deal with them. The visitors must shut down the hosts' strike runners, notably the dangerous Fionn Carr.
Trivia: This is the first meeting between the sides at any level.
Stats: Connacht's Ian Keatley is currently the second highest scorer in this season's Magners League behind the Ospreys' Dan Biggar. The fly-half currently has 169 and Biggar 186.
"The most positive thing from the last game was that, after the first 20 minutes, we started to play our game not only to be competitive, but to win the game. We showed good structures both in offence and defence to dominate the second-half at Ulster. If we are able to build on that performance, it could be another step toward the first win." - Aironi boss Rowland Phillips
Prediction: Connacht are in form and a tough proposition at home, they should take this one comfortably.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?