Connacht aiming to complete the job this time around
Connacht will be strengthened by the return from injury of Fetu’u Vainikolo in their meeting with Newport tonight.
The Tongan winger is the only change to the back line from last time out and is named among a talented group with Robbie Henshaw, Eoin Griffen and Dave McSharry. Kieran Marmion, the eye-catching scrumhalf of the moment, is once again in at number nine with Dan Parks.
The frontrow trio of Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright and Nathan White (captain) remains while Ireland secondrow Mike McCarthy comes in to partner Michael Swift.Versatile forward George Naoupu returns to his regular number eight and Eoin McKeon is moved to openside flanker.
Newport are vulnerable and sit immediately below Connacht on the table but the home side will concentrate on their own performance which at crucial moments over the last month or two have been undermined with errors.
It’s been a frustrating time for Connacht, who have seen much of their good work dissipate in the opposition’s red zone. Leinster aside (17-0), Connacht lost 12-16 to Munster and 23-24 to Edinburgh.
Flying South African Tonderai Chavhanga starts on the wing for Newport along with centre Adam Hughes and scrumhalf Wayne Evans.
The Welsh side hope to complete the double and lengthen Connacht’s four-game losing streak following their 14-3 victory at Rodney Parade in November.
CONNACHT: R Henshaw; D Poolman, E Griffen, D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, N White (capt), M McCarthy, A Browne, E McKeon, G Naoupu. Replacements: E Reynecke, B Wilkinson, R Loughney, M Kearney, E Grace, P O’Donoghue, M Jarvis, T O’Halloran
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: H Amos; T Chavhanga, A Hughes, A Tuilagi, T Prydie; L Robling, W Evans; P Price, S Parry, D Way, A Coombs, R Sidoli, L Evans (capt), N Cudd, T Faletau. Replacements: H Gustafson, O Evans, N Buck, A Jones, T Brown, J Evans, A Smith, J Dixon. Referee: Andrew McManemy (SRU). Verdict: Connacht.