Connacht on guard after last year’s sloppy defeat by Treviso

Defeat in Italy on last season’s PRO12 run-in might not have cost Connacht a coveted home semi-final, but that loss registered in their minds.

It was a sloppy defeat that should have been avoided as they let a 14-0 lead slip to a 22-21 reversal, but Jimmy Duffy insisted they will be aiming for immediate revenge.

A weakened Treviso were dissected by Munster in a seven-try victory at Thomond Park last weekend, but tomorrow the Italians will be nowhere near as weak as in that game where they had to plunder the lower leagues to make up their numbers.

They are still without 14 players for this trip to the Sportsground, but the return of internationals Simone Ferrari, Marco Fuser and Abraham Steyn to the pack, as well as Tommaso Allan and Nicola Quaglio to the bench, is a major boost.

Connacht, too, have been lifted by the return of internationals Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy to the starting line-up, while they have handed South African international Marnitz Boshoff a first start in the hope of avoiding a similar fate to the time the sides last met.

“It was one of the better learnings we had right throughout the season when they beat us over there last year,” said forwards’ coach Duffy “As a group, we re-evaluated and refocused. But it wasn’t an accident they are a good side over there.

“The Wasps game is something your mind may wonder towards but you always refocus because once you start looking beyond you miss what’s there in front of you. The name is there, it’s in the calendar but I am not looking at Wasps. I am focused on Treviso.”

Despite getting back to winning ways last week against Cardiff, there are three changes in the backline, while up front Nepia Fox- Matamua makes his first start on the blindside flank.

Connacht welcome the league’s basement side to Galway on the back of a 46-3 hammering by Munster, but Duffy says Treviso will be tough. “They have threats all over the field. They have a solid scrum and they have a huge forward pack. They have some pretty exciting backs.

“They always perform against Connacht and that’s something we are keenly aware of. We will be preparing for them as we would any other opposition.

“We know it’s going to a be a tough day up front but for us it’s how we incorporate that into our team attack game and our team defence game.”

CONNACHT:

T O’Halloran; C Kelleher, B Aki, S Ili, M Healy; M Boshoff, J Cooney; D Buckley, T McCartney, C Carey; Q Roux, J Cannon; N Fox-Matamua, J Heenan, J Muldoon.

Replacements:

D Heffernan, JP Cooney, D Robertson-McCoy, S O’Brien, E McKeon, C Blade, J Carty, R Parata.

TREVISO:

D Odiete; A Esposito, M Tagicakibau, A Sgarbi, L Sperandio; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; A De Marchi, D Giazzon, S Ferrari; M Lazzaroni, M Fuser; A Steyn, R Santamaria, M Barbini.

Replacements:

L Bigi, F Zani, M Zanusso, N Quaglio, V Flammini, E Gori, T Allan, A Pratichetti.

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