Bradley urges buoyant Connacht to continue winning ways

ON the back of a solid start in the Amlin Challenge Cup, Connacht return to the bread and butter of Magners League action hoping to continue their winning ways against Glasgow Warriors at Firhill tonight (7.30pm).

Having taken pole position in Pool Two of the cup, Connacht are now looking to translate that form into a victory over Glasgow to establish some consistency after an erratic start of the season.

Coach Michael Bradley says the victory in Montpellier was a “step up” in the side’s ability to take their chances, but they are now focused on new targets. “In the past we have failed to put together back-to-back wins. If you consider Montpellier a good win, then a win against Glasgow is a good target for us. We put up a good performance against Cardiff, but then against Ulster we were very poor on the night, so we have to change that.”

Bradley is selecting from an almost full deck with Ray Ofisa returning from injury, and Robbie Morris back from suspension. Only youngsters Conor Higgins and lock Dave Nolan are currently injured.

However, both Ofisa and Morris will start from the bench, while Ian Keatley and Sean Cronin come in for Miah Nikora and Adrian Flavin in only two changes to the side that overcame Montpellier 22–19.

Warriors’ Sean Dineen enjoys the luxury of selecting 12 internationals on the starting XV, with Scotland centre Max Evans and U20 lock Richie Gray, who makes his first start of the season, the latest to return from injury after scrum-half Chris Cusiter and centre Graeme Morrison came back last week.

“We’re really looking forward to them coming back,” says Lineen. “Max is a quality player. He adds another dimension to outside-centre play with his ability to beat his man and has a little bit more experience now.

“We’re still doing really well in the Magners League – in fact there’s only one team (Munster) that’s had more wins than us, so we’re up there despite really testing the squad.”

Glasgow may not have enjoyed a successful start to the Heineken Cup making it an uphill battle for them to qualify, but they have already taken the scalps of Munster’ and Cardiff Blues.

The odds favour a home win – the last four games between the two sides have been won by the home side. However, Connacht’s confidence has been boosted by their two wins in the Challenge Cup.

CONNACHT: G Duffy; F Carr, N Ta’asuo, K Matthews, T Nathan; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, S Cronin, J Hagan; M Swift, B Upton; M McCarthy, J O’Connor, J Muldoon.

Replacements: A Flavin, R Morris, R Ofisa, A Browne, C O’Loughlin, M Nikora, T O’Halloran.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: B Stortoni; C Shaw, M Evans, G Morrison, T Evans; D Parks, C Cusiter; J Welsh, D Hall, M Low; R Gray, A Kellock (cpt); K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie.

Replacements: P MacArthur, K Tkachuk, D Turner, R Vernon, M McMillan, C Gregor, H O’Hare.

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