Leinster and Connacht reveal their teams for URC clash

Ciarán Frawley is back after facial injury in February win against Edinburgh

Ciarán Frawley is back in the Leinster team for Saturday's URC clash with Connacht at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.35pm - live on RTE, Premier Sports).

Leo Cullen’s squad will be looking to bounce back this weekend from a disappointing interprovincial defeat against Ulster last time out.

There’s a welcome return to the lineup for centre Frawley who has recovered from a facial injury. He’s joined in midfield by Jamie Osborne.

The last line will be made up of Jimmy O’Brien with Tommy O’Brien on his right and Rory O’Loughlin on his left. Luke McGrath captains the side, partnering Ross Byrne in the halfbacks.

Up front, recent centurion Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Michael Ala’alatoa are the frontrow with Ross Molony and Joe McCarthy packing down behind them. The starting XV is completed by a backrow of Rhys Ruddock, Scott Penny and Max Deegan.

Among the replacements, there’s a potential debut for academy back Chris Cosgrave. A versatile player, Cosgrave can play anywhere across the back three but has also lined out at outhalf and centre during his school days in St Michael’s College. Now playing his club rugby with UCD RFC, he also played for Old Belvedere in his earlier years.

Andy Friend and his coaching team have opted for seven changes to the Connacht team that lined out against Edinburgh three weeks ago. Denis Buckley, Niall Murray, Jarrad Butler, Kieran Marmion, Oran McNulty, Tom Farrell and Tiernan O'Halloran all come into the starting 15.

The backs are completed by captain Jack Carty, centre Tom Day and winger John Porch, while the tight five features hooker Dave Heffernan, tighthead prop Jack Aungier, and lock Oisín Dowling. There’s no changes on either flank meaning Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver are retained.

Saturday will see Connacht and Leinster face-off for the first of three encounters in the space of four weeks, with their Champions Cup knockout games beginning in two weeks’ time.

Commenting on the team announcement, Friend said his players are well prepared for the challenge of Leinster:

“It’s been three weeks since our last game so we’ve had a long time to dwell on the Edinburgh performance and understand what happened, and we’ve had two good weeks of training under our belt since then.

“There’s been no talk about the Champions Cup games because tomorrow is a massive fixture in its own right. Our backs are against the wall if we’re to reach the playoffs and with a massive crowd behind us I’m sure all 23 men will put in a performance I know they’re capable of.”

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran; John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Oran McNulty; Jack Carty (capt), Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Jack Aungier; Oisin Dowling, Niall Murray; Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Greg McGrath, Ultan Dillane, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Sammy Arnold, Diarmuid Kilgallen.

Leinster: Jimmy O'Brien; Tommy O'Brien, Jamie Osborne, Ciaran Frawley, Rory O'Loughlin; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Michael Ala'alatoa, Ross Molony, Joe McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Ed Byrne, Thomas Clarkson, Josh Murphy, Martin Moloney, Nick McCarthy, David Hawkshaw, Chris Cosgrave.

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU).