European Challenge Cup
Connacht v London Irish
October 16, 2008
Hooker James Buckland starts in the London Irish front-row © Getty Images
Michael Bradley has made three changes to his Connacht side for their second round European Challenge Cup encounter with London Irish at the Sportsground on Friday night.
In the forwards Adrian Flavin starts at hooker against his former side while Ray Ofisa is selected at blindside flanker. Aidan Wynne comes into the side at inside centre for the injured Mel Deane as the sides battle it out for top spot in pool one. Connacht's superb 30-12 away win to Dax in the south of France last week has given Michael Bradley's men a great chance of advancing from the pool.
The first ever competitive fixture between the sides on Friday is poised to go a long way towards deciding the pecking order in this pool.
The Exiles, who began their Challenge Cup Pool 1 campaign with an emphatic bonus point win over Rugby Rovigo last Saturday, make one change to the stating line-up of the team that played at Madejski Stadium.
James Buckland starts in place of Danie Coetzee at hooker with David Paice taking the reserve hooker's position among the replacements. South Africa international Faan Rautenbach returns to join All Black Clarke Dermody in providing front row cover on the bench. Bob Casey captains the team.
"Last Saturday we showed how serious we are about the Challenge Cup and how we want to compete in it," said Toby Booth, London Irish Head Coach. "The players finished strong and clinically in the match with Rovigo and that shows how determined they are to do well in the tournament. It's a case of taking one step at a time and if we're good enough, we'll put ourselves in a position to realise our objective for this competition come the final stage of the season.
"Connacht also had the perfect start in the tournament last weekend - we know how difficult it is to win away in France. Any team coached by Michael Bradley will provide a tough challenge, especially at home. We had great contests during our pre-season visits to the Sportsground a few years ago so we anticipate another testing match tomorrow."
Connacht: F Carr; L Bibo, G Duffy, A Wynne, J Hearty; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Morris; M Swift, A Farley; R Ofisa, J O'Connor, J Muldoon (c)
Replacements: S Cronin, R Loughney, A Browne, C Rigney, K Campbell, A Dunne, D Riordan
London Irish: Delon Armitage; Topsy Ojo; Elvis Seveali'i; Seilala Mapusua; Sailosi Tagicakibau; Peter Hewat; Paul Hodgson; Alex Corbisiero; James Buckland, Tonga Lea'aetoa, Nick Kennedy; Bob Casey (c); Richard Thorpe; Steffon Armitage; Chris Hala'Ufia
Replacements: Clarke Dermody; David Paice; Faan Rautenbach; Gary Johnson; Declan Danaher; Peter Richards or Tom Parker; Shane Geraghty
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