Connacht missing Aki for Cardiff Blues meeting Saturday

By Keith Faherty

The Pro14 returns this weekend with Connacht welcoming the Cardiff Blues to The Sportsground, Galway, this Friday.

Despite Six Nations action, Connacht are only missing Bundee Aki due to international duty.

Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have been released by the Irish camp to play this weekend.

Connacht come into this game having won the last two outings at this venue.

The most recent one in April of last year winning on a scoreline of 29-22, which got them into the playoffs for a chance getting into European rugby for the following season.

Their last defeat that came to Cardiff Blues was back in September 2017 losing 17-15.

The last five meetings between the sides at the Sportsground has seen Connacht win three times.

Cardiff won once and there was one draw which came in May 2014.

Ultan Dillane’s return sees him partner with Gavin Thornbury in the second row, with Quinn Roux still unavailable through injury.

Back row, captain Jarrad Butler will start at number 8 with Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and open side.

Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty will play at half-back paired alongside each other.

Peter Robb and Kyle Godwin will play in midfield in the absence of Aki.

In the back three provides Tiernan O’Halloran at full back, Matt Healy and John Porch provide the wings.

Connacht team to play Cardiff Blues (Sat 15 Feb, 7:35pm)

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Paddy McAllister, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury; Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Jason Harries, Rey Lee-Lo, Garyn Smith, Hallam Amos; Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams (capt.); Rhys Gill, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip; Filo Paulo, James Ratti; Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Will Boyde

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Corey Domachowski, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Nick Williams, Lewis Jones, Ben Thomas, Ryan Edwards

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