Sale Sharks

  • Bundee Aki has returned to the Connacht starting team for their European Challenge Cup Quarter Final against Sale Sharks on Friday night (Kick Off 7:45pm - Live BT Sports 2). This will be Aki's first start for Connacht since featuring in all of Ireland's games in the recent Six Nations Championship.

     The Connacht side will be captained by hooker Tom McCartney, who makes his 100th appearance for the province. Carty also returns to the starting line-up, having come off the bench in the home win over Benetton last weekend. Alongside Carty will be fellow international Kieran Marmion who also featured off the bench last time out.

    In the back three, Darragh Leader is named at full back with Cian Kelleher and Niyi Adeolokun on the wings. Adeolokun makes his first start since November, when he picked up an arm injury against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

    Aki's inclusion in the midfield sees him form a partnership with the versatile Kyle Godwin.

    Up front, props Peter McCabe and Dominic Robertson-McCoy join McCartney in the front row. While in the second row Gavin Thornbury continues his return from injury alongside James Cannon.

    In the back row Eoghan Masterson and James Connolly are named at blindside and openside respectively, with 22 year old Paul Boyle at number 8.

    (15-9) Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Tom McCartney (Capt), Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, James Connolly, Paul Boyle.

    Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Robin Copeland, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald.

     

  • Connacht can reach the European Challenge Cup semi finals for the first time in nine years tonight.

    The Westerners take on Sale Sharks in Manchester.

    Irish internationals Bundee Aki, Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion will all start.

    The game kicks off at 7.45pm.

  • Scrum-half Caolin Blade is set to captain Connacht for the first time as his side take on Sale in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

    With Jack Carty rested after playing seven games in a row, Blade will form a half back partnership with Academy player Conor Fitzgerald who made his debut off the bench in the win over Bordeaux-Begles last weekend.

    Connemara man Colm De Buitléar is named on the wing in what will also be his first competitive start for his province.

     The back line is also boosted by the return of centre Tom Farrell who forms a midfield partnership with Kyle Godwin.

     Tiernan O’Halloran also returns from injury to take his place at full back. He is part of a back three that includes twenty year old De Buitlear and Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing.

    In the forwards, the experienced Denis Buckley returns at loosehead alongside hooker Shane Delahunt and Conor Carey at tighthead. Behind them will be Irish international Ultan Dillane and James Cannon.

    In the back row, Paul Boyle moves to blindside while openside Colby Fainga’a and Robin Copelandat number 8 are both retained.

  • Full back Tiernan O'Halloran has returned from a leg injury to take his place in the Connacht side to face Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 3pm). The injury ruled O'Halloran out of all three of Connacht's interpro fixtures over the Christmas period.

     He comes into a back line that also includes a new midfield pairing with Bundee Aki and Kyle Godwin both coming back into the starting team.

     Following his contract extension earlier this week, Jack Carty continues at out half where he is partnered by former Sale Sharks player James Mitchell.

     In the front row Denis Buckley is named at loosehead having recovered from illness that ruled him out of the clash with Munster. Buckley will make his 150th appearance for his province against the Premiership side following his late withdrawal last week.

     There is also a new second row partnership with Ultan Dillane and James Cannon coming into the side, while in the back row Captain Jarrad Butler returns from injury and is named at number 8 alongside James Connolly and Eoghan Masterson.

      Kick-off 3pm:

    (15-9) Tiernan O'Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, James Mitchell, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Connolly, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

    Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Colby Fainga'a, Caolin Blade, David Horwitz, Darragh Leader.