Connacht Rugby team have an away trip to Zebre on Saturday, a bonus point win is vital to keep their champions cup qualification hopes alive.
Zebre Parma v Connacht
Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma – KO 15.05 IRE & UK / 16.05 ITA / 17.05 SA
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 88th league game)
AR 1: Clara Munarini (FIR) AR 2: Francesco Meschini (FIR)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
Live on: TG4, Viaplay, Premier Sports,
This is how the Champions Cup qualifying table presently looks for Connacht, so a win is absolutely vital.
Andy and his squad all focus will be on the trip to Parma this weekend where they look to make it three wins from three in the URC.
“This is a huge game for us”
“Look Zebre haven’t won a game yet but they’ve pushed a lot of good teams to the wire so we know we need to be on our game to beat these guys because they can hurt you if you let them”
Connacht are able to call upon Caolin Blade and Cian Prendergast for Saturday’s game. The two have been with the Irish squad the last week or so but are available for selection this week. David Hawkshaw and Oisin Dowling are both back fit and ready after injury layoffs to play this weekend as well
– Tommaso Boni missed a round-high eight tackles against the Ospreys last time out. This equals Manie Libbok’s record for most missed tackles in a fixture this season.
– Zebre Parma have made 125 entries to the 22 this season – more than seven other URC teams. However, they have the lowest rate of conversion: they have scored tries from a league-low 27% of their entries to the red zone.
– A league-high 50% of Zebre’s tackles have been low – below the waist. However, they are one of three teams in the URC with a tackle success rate of less than 87%.
– For the first time this season, two hattricks were scored in the same weekend in Round 13. One of these was scored by Connacht scrum half Caolin Blade, who also made more passes than any other player in the round (96).
– Niall Murray made four lineout steals in Round 13. Only Peter O’Mahony has made as many in a single match this season (Round 3). Murray has now stolen more opposition lineouts than any other player in the league (11).
– Jack Carty has made as many try assists as any other player (eight, = Paul de Wet). He has also made the most break assists with his passing (11).
Did you know?
Zebre Parma are on a four-match losing streak to Connacht, last winning in February 2018.
Zebre’s losing streak at home now extends to seven matches. In general, they have lost their last 16.
Connacht have won their last two fixtures. This is only the second time this season that they go into a match having won consecutive fixtures.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Everyone enjoyed a well-earned break after the Lions game, and now it’s all about getting back to work and playing our best rugby. We travel to Italy conscious that we’ll be up against a good Zebre side eager to get their first win of the season, but also confident that we can get the job done if we play to our abilities.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS ZEBRE PARMA
Saturday 18th February, 15:05 Irish time @ Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (218)
14.Diarmuid Kilgallen (14)
13. Tom Farrell (93)
12. Cathal Forde (8)
11. John Porch (73)
10. Jack Carty (193) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (167)
1. Denis Buckley (224)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (16)
3. Jack Aungier (44)
4. Josh Murphy (12)
5. Niall Murray (49)
6. Cian Prendergast (39)
7. Conor Oliver (56)
8. Jarrad Butler (108)
16. Eoin de Buitléar *
17. Jordan Duggan (35)
18. Sam Illo (7)
19. Darragh Murray (6)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (13)
21. Kieran Marmion (225)
22. Tom Daly (74)
23. Adam Byrne (5)
Bookies are expecting Connacht to have an easy win, the handicap is -11 which means Connacht are expected to win by 12pts or more.