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Connacht

  • Poolman, Marmion,
    Penalty goals: Parks,
    Conversions: Parks (2),
17 - 23

Saracens

  • Wyles, Ashton,
    Penalty goals: Farrell (3),
    Conversions: Farrell (2),

Heineken Cup preview: Connacht v Saracens

By Sam Drury - Follow on Twitter   Last updated: 12th October 2013  

Robbie Henshaw Connacht 2012

Robbie Henshaw: Comes into the centre for Connacht

OWEN FARRELL SARACENS ALLIANZ PARK

Owen Farrell: Returns to the Saracens starting XI at Connacht

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Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens begin their Heineken Cup campaign away at Connacht on Friday and will be hoping to maintain their winning run this season.

Mark McCall's side have won five from five in the league this season to top the table by five points after victory over Wasps at the weekend and will be full of confidence for their trip to Ireland.

Connacht, on the other hand, have suffered a poor start to the season in the RaboDirect Pro12, winning just once and losing their last four in their first five games. They were beaten 23-3 by Treviso in their last outing.

The good news for the home side is that they can welcome back captain Michael Swift in the second row with head coach Pat Lam making a number of other changes.

Rodney Ah You starts at tighthead with Brett Wilkinson and Sean Henry completing the front row whilst there are alterations to the backs too with Fionn Carr moving to right wing and Danie Poolman coming in on the left.

New signing James So'oialo is paired in the centre with Ireland international Robbie Henshaw but Lam bemoaned the loss of Eion Griffin and a host of other injuries.

Injury

"It was a huge blow for us losing our two tightheads last week as well as our starting centre Eoin Griffin. Our back line also took a hit when Matt Healy had to pull out with a knee injury," he said.

"With those injuries to our front rowers, we've had to bring up young JP Cooney as well as Peter Reilly from the Academy. Jason Harris-Wright was unavailable to train at the start of the week but he has made enough recovery on his return to take his place on the bench."

Saracens, meanwhile, bring Owen Farrell back into the starting XV after leaving him on the bench for the 19-12 win over Wasps. As a result Alex Goode returns to his usual full-back role.

David Strettle is back on the left wing with Joel Tomkins and Chris Wyles continuing together in the centre.

"We have got to be right mentally and physically. Connacht really step it up in this competition - I know that from my experiences in Ireland," said McCall.

"It's a really good, passionate atmosphere there and we have to be on our game - but having to grind out a victory against Wasps will not have done us any harm."

Connacht: 15. Gavin Duffy, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 James So'oialo, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Brett Wilkinson, 2 Sean Henry, 3 Rodney Ah You, 4 Michael Swift (c), 5 Craig Clarke, 6 John Muldoon, 7 Jake Heenan, 8 George Naoupu.

Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Peter Reilly, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Andrew Browne, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Matt Stevens, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 5 George Kruis, 6 Kelly Brown, 7 Will Fraser, 8 Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 James Johnston, 19 Alastair Hargreaves, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Michael Tagicakibau.

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European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday 5th December
European Rugby Champions Cup
19:45Montpellier vs Bath
Saturday 6th December
13:00Sale vs Saracens
17:30Munster vs Clermont Auvergne
19:45Ulster vs Scarlets
13:00Benetton Treviso vs Northampton
15:15Ospreys vs Racing Metro 92
Sunday 7th December
13:00Castres vs Wasps
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17:15Saracens vs Sale
19:45Leinster vs Harlequins
15:15Toulon vs Leicester
13:00Glasgow vs Toulouse
15:15Northampton vs Benetton Treviso
17:15Racing Metro 92 vs Ospreys
Sunday 14th December
15:15Clermont Auvergne vs Munster
13:00Wasps vs Castres
17:15Scarlets vs Ulster
Saturday 17th January
TBCSaracens vs Munster
TBCSale vs Clermont Auvergne
TBCHarlequins vs Wasps
TBCLeinster vs Castres
TBCLeicester vs Scarlets

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