Under-strength Ospreys take on Connacht
February 20, 2009
Sonny Parker returns for the Ospreys © Getty Images
The Ospreys, currently in second place on the Magners League table, welcome Connacht to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
They lost their last game against Munster but Ospreys Coach Sean Holley is confident ahead of Connacht's visit.
"We're in a strong position in the Magners League, and with two home matches during the Six Nations period it is imperative that we maintain the standards we have set so far this season. It is very tight at the top of the table, so we know what we have to do in order to not only keep up the pressure on Munster at the top, but also allow us to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
"Connacht may feel that we are a depleted side, but our success this season and in the past is down to us having a strong squad and players who are all challenging for places in the starting fifteen. The side that we have named is a good mix of youth an experience, with a lot of quality in the team.
"There is some fine young talent within the Ospreys region and I'm excited about the prospect of seeing the likes of Jonathan Spratt and Ashley Beck in action, especially with Andrew Bishop being recalled back to the Wales squad. Kristian Phillips has been showing some real quality with Wales Under-20's and deserves his start in the game and it is great to see Gareth Owen back after a long spell out with injury.
"Ryan Bevington has impressed in training and in the Welsh Premiership, along with Craig Mitchell, and just gets the nod on the bench.
"With the return from injury of Sonny Parker and Andy Lloyd, along with Spratt and Owen, and the arrival of Filipo Levi who will be making his Ospreys debut, the competition for places grows even stronger. There are players involved on Sunday with points to prove, and there are a lot of leaders in the team that understand the importance of this game. It all makes for what will, I'm sure, be a very interesting game, and having not had a game for four weeks now, we cannot wait for 2.15 on Sunday to come."
Connacht, who have not played in a month, have made one change for the match. Colm Rigney comes for the injured Michael McCarthy at no 8 who broke a bone in his foot at training this week and captain John Muldoon reverts to blindside flanker.
Ospreys: Gareth Owen; Kristian Phillips, Sonny Parker, Jonathan Spratt, Jonny Vaughton; Dan Biggar, Jamie Nutbrown; Paul James (capt), Richard Hibbard, Cai Griffiths, Filipo Levi, A Lloyd, Jonathan Thomas, Steve Tandy, Tom Smith
Replacements: Ed Shervington, Ryan Bevington, Filo Tiatia, Marty Holah, Rhys Webb, Ashley Beck, David Bishop
Connacht: Duffy; Carr, Ta'auso, Matthews, Bibo; Keatley, Murphy, Wilkinson, Cronin, Morris, Browne, Farley, Muldoon (captain), Ofisa, Rigney
Replacements: Flavin, Loughney, Swift, Gannon, Campbell, Dunne, Nathan
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