Connacht can edge tight affair against Glasgow and start on front foot

Andy Friend has made some interesting selections ahead of season opener

Bundee Aki will again lead the way for Connacht this season. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Bundee Aki will again lead the way for Connacht this season. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Pro 14: Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, Sportsground, Saturday, 5.15 – Live on TG4, Eir Sport 1, Premier Sports

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has settled on a slightly unfamiliar looking back three for this opening Guinness Pro 14 game with former Australia Sevens star John Porch at fullback, flanked by Peter Sullivan, a try scoring exemplar with Lansdowne, and Alex Wootton, on a season-long loan from Munster.

Bundee Aki is generally a lightning rod for his team’s best performances and is joined in midfield by regular partner Tom Farrell, while Irish internationals Jack Carty and the in-form Kiernan Marmion will hope to be offered a decent platform by their pack to manage the game. Conor Oliver, another summer recruit, is part of a backrow that has the potential to wreak havoc at the breakdown. There is a youthful look to the Connacht bench.

For Glasgow, Huw Jones has settled well following relocation from centre to fullback, Tommy Seymour’s attacking threat needs little elaboration, while outhalf Adam Hastings has excelled at Test level. Glasgow coach Danny Wilson has chosen to station the versatile Rob Harley in the secondrow alongside Scott Cummings with Richie Gray included among the replacements.

The post lockdown rugby environment has highlighted the importance of the breakdown so it’ll be interesting to see how Welsh referee Craig Evans handles this aspect of the game with two teams who are very good over the ball. It has all the hallmarks of a tight affair, which Connacht can just about shade.

CONNACHT: J Porch; P Sullivan, T Farrell, B Aki, A Wootton; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham; G Thornbury, Q Roux; J Butler (capt), C Oliver, P Boyle.

Replacements: J Murphy, J Duggan, J Aungier, N Murray, S Masterson, C Blade, C Fitzgerald, S Arnold.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: H Jones; T Seymour, N Grigg, S McDowall, R Nairn; A Hastings, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown (capt), D Rae; R Harley, S Cummings; R Wilson, C Fusaro, M Fagerson.

Replacements: G Turner, A Seiuli, A Pieretto, R Gray, F Lokotui, G Horne, P Horne, R Tagive.

Referee: C Evans (Wales)

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