Cardiff to challenge Connacht in Wales

After scoring seven tries against Treviso last week Pat Lam’s side travel with confidence

Mils Muliaina returns to the Connacht side for their Pro12 game against Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

Mils Muliaina returns to the Connacht side for their Pro12 game against Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

 

Cardiff Blues v Connacht

The Arms Park, 7.35, TG4

Former All Black Mils Muliaina returns for Connacht after his hamstring troubles as Pat Lam’s side face ninth placed Cardiff after their 53-5 win over Treviso last week.

In all Lam has made three personnel changes from the team that scored seven tries against the Italians with last week’s opening try scorer Tiernan O’Halloran shifting to the right wing to accommodate Muliaina.

Mick Kearney is promoted to the secondrow where he joins Aly Muldowney with George Naoupu coming in for Eoghan Masterson at number eight.

 

A boost

Danie Poolman, who lines out in the centre, has given the province a boost by signing a new deal that will keep him at the Sportsground until at least the summer of 2017.

 

Connacht are in sixth place on the table and face a side strengthened by the return of Gareth Anscombe and Welsh winger Alex Cuthbert. Cardiff beat Edinburgh last week but the Welsh team are still in flux following the departure of coach, Mark Hammett.

They have made six changes and seek a first victory over an Irish province this season.

“With another physical challenge away from home, it’s great to be able to bring in fresh legs up front with Mick (Kearney), George (Naoupu) and Andrew (Browne) in addition to the leadership and experience from Mils (Muliaina) out the back,” said Lam.

“Like every game from now until the end of the season, four points against Cardiff is massively important in the context of our ultimate goal.

“Challenges we face this week such as a short five-day turnaround, long travel, and 4G pitch were all identified early on and we tailored our preparation accordingly.”

Connacht knows how dangerous Cardiff can be, especially at home and when the teams last met in Galway back in October they drew 24-24.

CONNACHT: M Muliaina; T O’Halloran, D Poolman, D McSharry, M Healy; C Ronaldson, J Cooney; D Buckley. T McCartney, R Ah You, M Kearney, A Muldowney, J Muldoon (capt), J Heenan, G Naoupu. Replacements: S Delahunt, R Loughney, F Brealham, A Browne, E Masterson, I Porter, J Carty, D Leader.
CARDIFF: R Patchell; A Cuthbert, C Allen, G Evans, J Tuculet; G Anscombe, L Williams; S Hobbs, K Dacey, T Filise, J Hoeata, L Reed, J Turnbull, E Jenkins (capt), J Navidi. Replacements: R Williams, T Davies, S Andrews, F Paulo, M Cook, T Knoyle, G Davies, T Isaacs.
Referee: L Linton (SRU).
Verdict: Cardiff.

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