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RaboDirect Pro12 preview - Connacht v Ospreys
Connacht welcome PRO12 champions the Ospreys to the Sportsground on Friday night, with home coach Eric Elwood making three personnel changes to his starting XV.
Robbie Henshaw, who last week earned his first Ireland U20 cap, returns to full-back. The 19-year-old was instrumental in Ireland's dramatic one-point Six Nations victory over England in Athlone.
Tiernan O'Halloran, who covered at full-back last week, now returns to the right wing. Try-scorer Danie Poolman replaces Fetu'u Vainikolo on the left, completing the youthful and pacey back three.
A strong performance in Wales on his first game back from injury sees Kyle Tonetti retain the number 12 shirt. He joins up with Eoin Griffin.
Meanwhile, the front five remains unchanged with Nathan While captaining the side on Friday.
Recent returnees John Muldoon and Willie Faloon were brought off the bench against Scarlets last Friday night. This week, they both start in the back row, replacing Andrew Browne and Johnny O'Connor respectively.
Gavin Duffy is named on the bench and could make his 150th Connacht appearance.
Meanwhile, the Ospreys are without ten players who are unavailable for selection because of international duty with Wales senior and sevens squads.
The following players were not considered because of injury: Ian Gough (calf), Andrew Bishop (back), Ashley Beck (ankle), Hanno Dirksen (knee), Tom Smith (groin), Joe Rees (neck) and Aaron Jarvis (knee).
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Kyle Tonetti, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (capt), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Gavin Duffy.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Ben John, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Lloyd Peers, 20 Jonathan Thomas, 21 Arthur Ellis/Sam Davies, 22 Rhys Webb, 23 Ross Jones.
What they said...
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy
"It's really important that we back up last Friday's win in Ulster with some good performances over the next couple of weeks. We need to make sure we show the same attitude, commitment and application against Connacht, Edinburgh and Munster, and if we do that, we should get our rewards.
"We've got no room for error in the end of season run-in. Three defeats in our first three games mean that we have had to play catch-up, and with more away games than home games remaining, it makes it doubly difficult."
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Dragons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 21st February|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Cardiff Blues|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Connacht|
|TBC||Leinster vs Zebre|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ulster|
|Friday 26th December|
|Ulster 13 - 10 Connacht|
|Munster 28 - 13 Leinster|
|Cardiff Blues 17 - 23 Dragons|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Dragons 25 - 11 Zebre|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Ospreys 31 - 20 Ulster|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 18 Munster|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com