Connacht will trust their 2-4-2 after getting international injection

HAVING BEEN DISMANTLED by Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground last weekend, Connacht have an opportunity to get their Guinness Pro12 campaign back on track against the Ospreys in Galway this evening [KO 7.35pm, TG4].

The Welsh region enjoyed a 59-5 win over Zebre in their own round one tie, meaning they face Pat Lam’s men with a little momentum behind them.

International injection

Lam has made four changes to his XV in total, with the introduction of Ireland internationals Kieran Marmion and Tiernan O’Halloran being particularly welcome.

Tiernan O’Halloran is back at 15. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fullback O’Halloran was one of the stars of Connacht’s run to trophy success last season and won a hard-earned first Ireland cap on the tour of South Africa in June, although his debut was cut short by Willie le Roux’s challenge in the air.

Cian Kelleher, injured for this game, was excellent with ball in hand at 15 against Glasgow but certainly showed that he has much to learn defensively. O’Halloran brings attacking gifts but should also help shore up what was an extremely shaky Connacht back three last weekend.

Marmion, meanwhile, should relieve a little of the burden on out-half Jack Carty, who was partnered by the less-experienced Caolin Blade last weekend. Marmion’s sniping game will be of benefit, as will his understanding of the Connacht game plan.

The other two changes see James Connolly – impressive last season – and the stalwart Ronan Loughney introduced to the XV in place of the injured Nepia Fox-Matamua and Denis Buckley.

Trusting themselves

For much of the first half last weekend, Connacht looked in promising form. Their attacking shape was strong and they managed to cut Glasgow open on a number of occasions.

Pat Lam with former Connacht man Dan McFarland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Opportunities were missed, however, nowhere more glaringly than when Bundee Aki made a scintillating linebreak but then missed the open Kelleher to his right for a possible try.

The error count rose as Connacht’s fitness appeared to show up poorly, and Glasgow looked more and more comfortable with defending against and even taking advantage of the westerners’ 2-4-2 structure.

Connacht will be confident of bringing greater physical energy to this contest with the Ospreys after getting eighty Pro12 minutes under their belt, and will trust that their attack and defence systems can deliver again.

They have utter belief that their attacking skills and structures can cut any team open. Now they will look to add clinical finishing touches every time.

Qualter to mimic Muldowney

One of the biggest questions for Connacht leading into this season was who was going to fill Aly Muldowney’s boots.