Provinces face crucial Celtic League games

ULSTER apart, these are vital weeks for the Irish provinces in the Celtic League.

A combination of injury worries, and international commitments have lessened the threat of Leinster, Munster and Connacht in the competition to date, and that fact has been graphically reflected in the mixed results.

All are now bidding to return to winning ways in a competition which has been dominated by the Irish since it’s inception two years ago.

Tonight, Leinster are away to Glasgow and the home side welcome back Kiwi scrum half Sam Pinder for the clash at Hughenden.

Pinder damaged a finger during Glasgow's opening league victory over Cardiff Blues and this will be his second appearance since joining the club in the summer.

Four other changes in personnel as well as two positional switches have been made in the team who started in last Friday’s defeat by Munster (10-26).

Alan Bulloch returns at inside centre in a shuffled three-quarter line while Nathan Ross and Scott Lawson are back in the pack. Bulloch and Lawson played as replacements against Munster last week. With Bulloch’s recall, Graeme Morrison switches to his more accustomed role at outside centre, and Sean Lamont transfers to the right wing in place of Jon Steel. Ross replaces Joe Beardshaw at lock, and Lawson takes over as hooker from Simon Gunn, who has a knee injury.

Because of Gunn’s absence, Glasgow have enlisted Fergus Thomson, Glasgow Hawks’ Scotland under-21 hooker, for duty among the replacements.

Matthew Proudfoot has had to drop out as loose-head prop because of a calf injury. Euan Murray steps up to take over from the Scotland prop. Andrew Kelly has been recalled to the replacements’ bench.

Connacht, meanwhile, have made eight changes from the team beaten by Llanelli for their visit to take on Neath/Swansea at St Jelen's.

The changes to the side are a combination of injuries and a rotation policy by coach Michael Bradley.

Prop Peter Bracken will not be back until the New Year and he has been joined on the casualty list by fellow props Warren O’Kelly (finger) and Ray Hogan (shoulder), centres Shane Moore (back) and Darren Yapp (hip), hookers Marnus Uijs (knee) and John Fogarty (dead leg), as well as flankers Michael Swift (hamstring) and Matt Lacey (shin).

David Hewitt will start at full-back with Ted Robinson coming into the side on the right-wing. Matt Mostyn moves to the centre with Wayne Munn selected on the left-wing. Dan McFarland is named at loose head prop with Adrian Clarke at tight head, while Mike McCarthy is selected in the second row where he partners Damian Browne.

In the back row, Irish U21 John Muldoon makes his first start for the province at blindside with Paul Neville switching to openside and Michael Carroll coming in at No 8.

“This is another big game for us and a test of our resources. Hopefully, we can put the disappointments of the last couple of weeks behind us and get back on track,” said Bradley.

Munster are at Thomond Park for the visit of the Celtic Warriors, whose challenge is likely to be led by former Welsh and Lions great Neil Jenkins.

CONNACHT: D. Hewitt, T. Robinson, M. Mostyn, T. Allnutt, W. Munn, E. Elwood, M. Walls, D. McFarland, B. Jackman, A. Clarke, D. Browne, M. McCarthy, J. Muldoon, M. Carroll, J. Muldoon.

GLASGOW: S. Moffat, S. Lamont, G. Morrison, A. Bulloch, R. Kerr, D. Parks, S. Pinder, E. Murray, S. Lawson, L. Harrison, A. Hall, N. Ross, R. Reid, P. Dearlove (captain), D. Macfadyen.

LEINSTER: G. D'Arcy, J. McWeeney, J. Downey, D. Quinlan, G. Brown, M. Leek, B. O'Meara, E. Byrne, G. Hickie, P. Coyle, A. Kearney, B. Gissing, N. Breslin, D. Dillon, S. Jennings (captain).

MUNSTER: D. Crotty, M. McPhail, M. Mullins, J. Holland, M. Lawlor, J. Staunton, E. Reddan, S. Kerr, A. Long, F. Roche, S. Keogh, D. Leamy, J. Williams (captain), C. McMahon.

More in this section

CourtsRugbyCeltic LeaguePlace: IrishPlace: GlasgowPlace: ScotlandPlace: St JelenPlace: Thomond ParkPerson: Sam PinderPerson: PinderPerson: Alan BullochPerson: Nathan RossPerson: Scott LawsonPerson: BullochPerson: LawsonPerson: Graeme MorrisonPerson: Sean LamontPerson: Jon SteelPerson: RossPerson: Joe BeardshawPerson: Simon GunnPerson: GunnPerson: Fergus ThomsonPerson: Matthew ProudfootPerson: Euan MurrayPerson: Andrew KellyPerson: Michael BradleyPerson: Peter BrackenPerson: Warren O’KellyPerson: Ray HoganPerson: Shane MoorePerson: Darren YappPerson: Marnus UijsPerson: John FogartyPerson: Michael SwiftPerson: Matt LaceyPerson: David HewittPerson: Ted RobinsonPerson: Matt MostynPerson: Wayne MunnPerson: Dan McFarlandPerson: Adrian ClarkePerson: Mike McCarthyPerson: Damian BrownePerson: John MuldoonPerson: Paul NevillePerson: Michael CarrollPerson: BradleyPerson: Neil JenkinsPerson: D. HewittPerson: T. RobinsonPerson: M. MostynPerson: T. AllnuttPerson: W. MunnPerson: E. ElwoodPerson: M. WallsPerson: D. McFarlandPerson: B. JackmanPerson: A. ClarkePerson: D. BrownePerson: M. McCarthyPerson: J. MuldoonPerson: M. CarrollPerson: S. MoffatPerson: S. LamontPerson: G. MorrisonPerson: A. BullochPerson: R. KerrPerson: D. ParksPerson: S. PinderPerson: E. MurrayPerson: S. LawsonPerson: L. HarrisonPerson: A. HallPerson: N. RossPerson: R. ReidPerson: P. DearlovePerson: D. MacfadyenPerson: G. D'ArcyPerson: J. McWeeneyPerson: J. DowneyPerson: D. QuinlanPerson: G. BrownPerson: M. LeekPerson: B. O'MearaPerson: E. ByrnePerson: G. HickiePerson: P. CoylePerson: A. KearneyPerson: B. GissingPerson: N. BreslinPerson: D. DillonPerson: S. JenningsPerson: D. CrottyPerson: M. McPhailPerson: M. MullinsPerson: J. HollandPerson: M. LawlorPerson: J. StauntonPerson: E. ReddanPerson: S. KerrPerson: A. LongPerson: F. RochePerson: S. KeoghPerson: D. LeamyPerson: J. WilliamsPerson: C. McMahonEvent: Celtic LeagueEvent: New YearOrganisation: LeinsterOrganisation: MunsterOrganisation: ConnachtOrganisation: Cardiff BluesOrganisation: GlasgowOrganisation: Glasgow Hawks’Organisation: SwanseaOrganisation: U21Organisation: Celtic WarriorsOrganisation: WelshOrganisation: Lions

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