Connacht must sign off home season with Ulster scalp

Connacht conclude their home season tomorrow in the Galway Sportsground (6.30pm ) when they take on Ulster in this penultimate Magners League fixture.

With Connacht rooted to the bottom of the league table, there is nothing but pride at stake. Yet they have a huge incentive if they can pick themselves up from their defeat to the Dragons last time out which ended their Heineken Cup ambitions. This is still an interprovincial and a victory tomorrow would give Connacht their first clean sweep at home over all the Irish provinces in the professional era.

They simply must pick themselves up from their defeat to the Dragons last time out which ended their Heineken Cup ambitions and give the home supporters a final fling this season.

"We've a unique opportunity to have home victories over the three other Irish provinces in the one season - a feat that Connacht rugby have not yet achieved in the professional era,” says coach Michael Bradley.

"Secondly, it is a momentous game for Andrew Farley in achieving his 153rd competitive cap for Connacht and at the same time Michael Swift's 150th cap for the province. When you take into consideration that Andrew is a few games off completing his sixth season with the club, it becomes even more noteworthy that he achieved the number of caps in such a short period of time and that we may not see it happen again in such a short timeframe."

Despite some strong performances at home this season Bradley is wary of Ulster’s clinical finishing.

"Earlier in the year when we played Ulster in Ravenhill we went up to the match with a lot of confidence, but Ulster showed in that game that they can be very clinical and we must be wary of this fact when we play them tomorrow night."

Connacht will be without two front-line players in centre Niva Ta’auso and flanker Johnny O’Connor, both with ankle injuries. As a result Bradley is likely to reshuffle his backline with Gavin Duffy reverting to the centre to partner Keith Matthews, and Troy Nathan slotting into fullback. Up front Andrew Browne is likely to get another start in the backrow with Ray Ofisa at openside, and captain John Muldoon returning from his one match suspension. Michael Swift is expected to partner Farley in the second row.

Connacht’s erratic performances, particularly away from home, have proved costly. They have for the most part given value for money to their home supporters, particularly with rousing victories over Leinster and Munster. Now they have a real opportunity to sign off their home season with a third interprovincial win.

Connacht (possible ): T Nathan, F Carr, G Duffy, K Matthews, L Bibo, I Keatley, F Murphy, B Wilkinson, S Cronin, R Loughney, M Swift, A Farley, A Browne, R Ofisa, J Muldoon (cpt ). Replacements, A Flavin, B McGovern, D Gannon, C Rigney, CO’Loughlin, A Dunne, M Deane.

•The RBS 6 Nations Trophy and the Triple Crown will be present in the Sportsground tomorrow and will be paraded at half time.



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