Connacht facing away day litmus test in Cardiff
Andy Friend makes two changes following impressive opening day win over Glasgow
Sam Arnold has been named in the Connacht team to face Cardiff this weekend. File photograph: Inpho
Cardiff v Connacht, Rodney Parade (7.35, Live on TG4, S4C and Premier Sports)
Andy Friend has stressed that Connacht’s initial target of two wins from two is “only half-done”. They head to Newport, where Cardiff have moved this game to as the Arms Park is part of the city’s fight against the pandemic, in a good place.
Following their deserved and eye-catching win over Ulster post lockdown, Connacht backed their skills and running game to overcome Glasgow last week, and they name all of their six-strong Irish squad.
Two changes see summer signing Sammy Arnold partner Bundee Aki, on fire with four tries in three games since lockdown, while Eoghan Masterson starts at blindside flanker with influential captain Jarrad Butler moving to ‘8’.
Cardiff are also looking for two from two after their 14-man win away to Zebre and have named all of their half-dozen Welsh squad members. One of them, prop Dillon Lewis, comes into the team along with hooker Kirby Myhill and flanker Olly Robinson, who replaces Josh Turnbull after he was suspended for three weeks after his red card in Parma.
The Blues beat the Ospreys 29-20 last August at Rodney Parade, but while early days yet, for Connacht to be seen as contenders it’s their away form which needs improving.
Fans or no fans, they have lost seven of their last eight away games, often heavily, the exception being a win against the now defunct Southern Kings in March. This then, could be something of a litmus test.
Cardiff Blues: M Morgan; J Adams, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, H Amos; J Evans, L Williams; C Domachowski, K Myhill, D Lewis; S Davies, C Hill (Capt); S Lewis-Hughes, O Robinson, J Botham. Replacements: K Dacey, R Carré, D Arhip, B Murphy, A Lawrence, L Jones, J Tovey, G Smith.
Connacht: J Porch; P Sullivan, S Arnold, B Aki, A Wooton; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham; G Thornbury, Q Roux; E Masterson, C Oliver, J Butler (Capt). Replacements: S Delahunt, J Duggan, J Aungier, U Dillane, P Boyle, S Kerins, C Fitzgerald, T Daly.
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR).
Forecast: Connacht to win.