Connacht v Ospreys - teams and prediction
PREVIEW: Connacht and the Ospreys will be looking to build on their impressive Round Five victories when they meet in Galway on Friday.
The Westerners triumphed 36-11 over previously unbeaten Ulster in Dublin before the international break, while the Ospreys stunned Munster in Swansea.
The Welsh region is aiming to break into the top four in the overall table this weekend.
They currently sit one point behind fourth-placed Edinburgh and seven adrift of leaders Leinster.
Connacht has won three of their last four home games but were beaten 26-20 at The Sportsground by the Ospreys in January.
The Ospreys have made a decent start to the season, winning four of their five games – their only blip coming at home to the Sharks.
The Welsh side has won 23 of their 35 meetings with Connacht and have lost just twice on the road since mid-March, one of them to Friday’s opponents in the Rainbow Cup.
Hooker Dave Heffernan will make his 150th appearance for Connacht in the match, while centre Shayne Bolton earns his debut.
What they said
Andy Friend (Connacht): “We’re in a good spot. We all had a break and three good weeks of training. We’ve got most of our internationals back, which is good.
“We’ve had three really good weeks of continual work and we’re focusing on these first two games. We’ve got 10 games, we’ve got Christmas in there, we’ve got New Year in there, we’ve got European games in there, URC games in there, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games.
“All we can do is zone in on these next two weeks, which is Ospreys and Leinster, two Friday night games and we’re looking forward to those.”
Toby Booth (Ospreys): “We know it’s all about benchmarking ourselves against the Irish provinces and this is an opportunity to do that.
“We went there and won in the sunshine and went there in the Rainbow Cup and lost.
“From that point of view, we know how competitive Connacht are – they are a very, very good team and well-coached.”
@rugby365com: Connacht by nine points
Connacht: 15 Oran McNulty, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Shayne Bolton, 12 Sammy Arnold, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Jarrad Butler, 5 Ultan Dillane, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Matthew Burke.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Oisín Dowling, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Peter Robb.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Max Nagy, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Ethan Roots, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Sam Cross, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Morgan Morris, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Cai Evans.
Date: Friday, November 26
Venue: The Sportsground, Galway
Kick-off: 19.35 (19.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Peter Martin (Ireland), Dan Carson (Ireland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Ireland)