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Your PRO14 Team News As Irish Provinces Return To Action

PRO14 Team News

The Irish provinces are back in action this weekend as they enter the final block of games which will define their respective seasons. 

The Guinness PRO14 enters Round 18 with the playoff race beginning to hot up while there is also the added caveat of producing momentum and form ahead of quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup next weekend.

Here we provide you with all the team news for the Irish provinces with some international players making a return after the Guinness Six Nations.

Connacht Rugby v Benetton Rugby (Friday KO 19:35) 

Connacht’s bonus point win last time out sees them in third place in Conference A ahead of their clash with Benetton on Friday night. They are level on points with the Cardiff Blues but surpass them in the table due to their superior points difference.

Andy Friend’s side welcome Benetton who have been brilliant under Kieran Crowley this season.

PRO14 Team News

A tough battle at the Sportsground awaits but Connacht have been boosted with the return of Ireland internationals Ultan Dillane, Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion.

Dillane starts while Marmion and Carty are being held in reserve which means that Friend continues with the half-back partnership of Caolin Blade and Kyle Godwin.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Kyle Godwin, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Stephen Fitzgerald.

Edinburgh Rugby v Leinster Rugby (Friday KO 19:35) 

Leinster have already secured top spot in Conference B and as a result, a home semi-final. Leo Cullen’s side have the luxury of experimenting over the final few weeks but they will also be cognisant of building form ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final with Ulster next weekend.

PRO14 Team News

In what is a big boost for Leinster, Dan Leavy makes his first apperance in quite some time after been ruled out of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign with a calf issue.

Leinster have also been rushed into a late change with the news that Ross Byrne has dropped out through injury which means that Ciaran Frawley, who was originally named at fullback, moves to out-half and Jimmy O’Brien comes in off the bench to start at 15.

Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien, Fergus McFadden, Noel Reid, Joe Tomane, Barry Daly, Ciaran Frawley, Luke McGrath, Ed Byrne, Seán Cronin, Michael Bent, Josh Murphy, Mick Kearney, Rhys Ruddock (c), Dan Leavy, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Jack Dunne, Oisín Dowling, Nick McCarthy, Gavin Mullin, Conor O’Brien.

Ulster Rugby v Southern Kings (Saturday KO 17:30)

Despite losing three players to the sin bin in their match against the Dragons last time out,  Ulster still prevailed with a bonus point win as they eased to a 15-28 victory.

That win puts the northern province into third spot in Conference B and just one point behind second-placed Benetton and four points ahead of fourth-placed Scarlets.

Ulster have made five changes to the starting XV from that win over the Dragons with four of those changes coming in the pack.

PRO14 Team News

Loosehead prop Andy Warwick, lock Ian Nagle and back rows Matty Rea and Marcell Coetzee all come in. Coetzee has not featured since January’s Heineken Champions Cup defeat of Leicester at Welford Road.

The only other change is at scrum-half as Dave Shanahan comes in for John Cooney to partner Billy Burns at out-half.

Ulster: L Ludik; R Baloucoune, D Cave, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, D Shanahan; A Warwick, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (c), I Nagle, M Rea, N Timoney, M Coetzee;

Replacements: J Andrew, W Herbst, T O’Toole, K Treadwell, C Ross, J Cooney, M Lowry, A Kernohan.

Munster Rugby v Zebre (Saturday KO 19:45)

Munster’s excellent run of form came to an end last time out when they lost out narrowly to the Scarlets in torrential conditions in Wales.

That loss saw the Glasgow Warriors go top of Conference A and Munster will be hoping to keep the pressure on with a bonus-point win over Zebre at Thomond Park on Saturday evening.

PRO14 Team News

There are seven changes to the side that faced Scarlets three weeks ago.

Alex Wootton, JJ Hanrahan, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and CJ Stander all come into the starting XV.

Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Darren O’Shea; Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (C).

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Arno Botha, Duncan Williams, Tyler Bleyendaal, Chris Farrell.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter