Connacht have real shot at an away win


NOT EXACTLY one for the ages. An irrelevant game in the general scheme of things, with Connacht 10th to the Dragons eighth in the RaboDirect Pro 12 table, but for Eric Elwood’s men it presents a genuine opportunity to win on the road.

The only change from last week’s defeat to Munster sees Kyle Tonetti getting off the wing and closer to his natural position of inside centre. He starts at 13.

Going to Connacht for many young professionals is an opportunity to continue living the dream but little progress can be made by a lack of access to their specific position. Not that this is the fault of Elwood. The coach admirably juggles scant resources.

Tonetti’s shift to midfield is due to Eoin Griffin’s knee injury, with Fetu’u Vainikolo coming on to the wing.

Connacht Rugby have launched their 2012/13 season tickets this week. Last year’s sales were swelled by qualification to the Heineken Cup when Leinster did them a favour in May.

The lack of major signings – okay 33-year-old Dan Parks is coming, or a new chief executive appointment – isn’t helping.

They are capable of winning tonight but the Dragons backrow is seriously boosted by the inclusion of Grand Slam winning duo Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.

That should be the difference.

DRAGONS: W Harries; T Chavanga, A Tuilagi, A Smith, A Brew; L Robling, W Evans; P Price, S Jones, N Buck; L Charteris (capt), R Sidoli; D Lydiate, J Groves, T Faletau. Replacements: S Parry, N Williams, D Way, L Evans, T Brown, J Bedford, A Hughes, S Jones.

CONNACHT: G Duffy; F Vainikolo, K Tonetti, H Faafili, T OHalloran; M Nikora, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; M Kearney, R Ofisa, J Muldoon. Replacements: A Flavin, F Bealham, R Ah You, E McKeon, E Grace, P ODonohoe, M Jarvis, D McSharry.

Referee: Giuseppe Vivarini (FIR).

Verdict: Dragons to win.