Bradley makes nine changes for Cardiff clash

Another herculean effort will be needed by Connacht tomorrow evening if they are to come away from Arms Park with any points from Cardiff.

The Welsh venue has not been a happy hunting ground for Connacht since they ground out a 6-3 victory way back in 2001. Since then they have only beaten the Blues once in their last 10 encounters - a 13 - 9 victory in the Galway Sportsground in 2005.

While this is not a game Connacht will be targeting, they will travel with more confidence after their victory over Cardiff. An improvement in their defence, and some signs of much-needed creativity out wide, reaped its rewards, and coach Michael Bradley will be looking for more of the same tomorrow. Last weekend Connacht took advantage of the couple of chances they created, but Bradley is now urging his side to show greater discipline in ball retention to ensure they control their own possession for longer periods.

Bradley has been forced to make several changes to the starting line-up due to injuries to Gavin Duffy, Keith Matthews, and Ray Ofisa - although it is likely some of those changes would have been made for this match. This means a new centre partnership with John Hearty, who moves from the wing to partner Mel Deane in midfield. On the plus side winger Mike Roberts is back in action and he gets his first Magners League start for the province. Also returning from injury is Michael Swift, and he will start alongside Andrew Browne in a new second row partnership with Andrew Farley and Mike McCarthy moving to the bench. Up front John Lyne and Adrian Flavin are named in the front row, while Johnny O'Connor, who made a welcome return last week as a replacement, is included in the starting line-up, forming a familiar backrow partnership with captain John Muldoon and No 8 Colm Rigney.

Another of the nine changes to tomorrow’s side is at outhalf where Andy Dunne gets his chance to impress, and he will need to ensure he punishes any Cardiff mistakes with accurate goal kicking.

Connacht coach Michael Bradley says the changes will give an opportunity to others to stake a claim.

"It gives the guys who did not start last week a chance to put down a marker ahead of the European Challenge Cup campaign.”

They will need to against a Cardiff side that drew with Leinster (16-16 ), overcame Ulster (16 - 15 ), but lost to the Ospreys (32-10 ) and to Munster (28 -20 ) last weekend.

And Connacht have been warned. Blues’ Dai Young says the Blues are determined to bounce back from the heartbreak of last week's defeat.

"That was probably the best we've played all season," said Young, who was angered by a sin bin for Robin Sowden-Taylor that he felt decided the game.

"All we can do now is build on the performance at Musgrave Park for the visit of Connacht to the Arms Park."

Connacht will have to ensure Cardiff do not get the opportunities to score or they could run away with the game, like Llanelli and the Ospreys.

The Welsh will be targeting Connacht as a winnable match. Connacht, if they maintain their defensive lines and take their opportunities, will be looking for something from this match - at least a strong performance.

Connacht: F Carr; A Wynne, J Hearty, M Deane, M Roberts; A Dunne, F Murphy; J Lyne, A Flavin, R Morris; A Browne, M Swift; J Muldoon (C ), J O'Connor, C Rigney. Replacements: S Cronin, R Loughney, A Farley, M McCarthy, K Campbell, I Keatley, L Bibo.

 

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