Guinness Pro14 Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht 1 month ago

Guinness Pro14 Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

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A win here could bring Connacht up to third in their conference.

While Leinster have been busy running away with Conference A, things have been much tighter in the other group. A mere eight points separate the top four teams in Conference B, and none of them have European rugby to worry about.

It's pretty much impossible to determine what way this group is going to look at the end of the season. Connacht's win against Cardiff last week does put a bit of breathing room between the two teams (by that we mean six points), but it's still all to play for.

Edinburgh play host to the western province this Friday at 7.35pm (live on eir sport Xtra). Connacht are looking for their first win against the Scots since April 2017, but it's worth noting that one score has separated the side in each of their last four meetings.

Here are the two squads:

Edinburgh

15. Damien Hoyland

14. Eroni Sau

13. Mark Bennett

12. Matt Scott

11. Duhan van der Merwe

10. Simon Hickey

9. Nic Groom (C)

1. Pierre Schoeman

2. Mike Willemse

3. Simon Berghan

4. Stan South

5. Lewis Carmichael

6. Nick Haining

7. Luke Crosbie

8. Viliame Mata

Bench: Cameron Fenton, Murray McCallum, Dan Winning, Jamie Hodgson, John Barclay, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, George Taylor.

Connacht

15 . Tiernan O’Halloran

14. Niyi Adeolokun

13. Kyle Godwin

12. Peter Robb

11. John Porch

10. Jack Carty

9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley

2. Shane Delahunt

3. Finlay Bealham

4. Niall Murray

5. Joe Maksymiw

6. Paul Boyle

7. Colby Fainga’a

8. Jarrad Butler (C)

Bench: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

Predictions

You would really have to worry about Connacht's second row, especially with Ultan Dillane being kept with the Irish camp. Injuries have proven to tested the squad depth to its limits this season, no more so was this evident when there weren't even enough fit players for basic drills over Christmas.

Maksymiw has had plenty of game time this season but has been exposed a good bit in the lineout. Academy lock Niall Murray's only start was for the 54-7 hammering in the RDS, which wasn't exactly the easiest of introductions to the Guinness Pro14.

The rest of the pack is solid however, and they'll be hoping that will be enough to set that backline loose. Saying that, only Munster and Leinster have conceded fewer tries than Conference-toppers Edinburgh so they will have to be at their best as well.

Don't let those stats trick you into thinking this is an overly defensive Edinburgh side however. Duhan van der Murwe has beaten more defenders than any other player this season, so you can be damn sure he'll expose any weaknesses.

The lineout may well prove to be an issue for Connacht, so the key could well be supplying quality ball for Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty to create a bit of magic. There aren't many half back pairings quite as capable of doing that, so absolutely anything is possible when it comes to Connacht.

Verdict: Edinburgh to win by five points.

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