Brive v Connacht - Preview, Team News and Prediction

Brive v Connacht – Preview, Team News and Prediction

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Connacht look to win their second game of the Challenge cup this Friday night when they travel to take on struggling French side Brive.

Another win for Connacht will go a long way to seeing them make the knockout stages of the competition and with Brive struggling, this is a great opportunity to do so.

Connacht Team 

Connacht have named a mixture of youth and experience in their side. Gavin Thornbury, Kieran Marmion and Bundee Aki are the big names that come back into the side travelling to France. Having the experience of those three players will be huge as young prop Sam Illo and the younger brother of Niall Murray, Darragh Murray also starts his first game for Connacht in the second row.

We see an interesting selection of Oisin Dowling at 6.

Dowling applies his trade normally in the second row so it will be very intriguing to see if he has the mobility and engine to play at 6 effectively. Shane Delahunt also starts his first game after a long time out due to injury. Before that injury Delahunt was the inform hooker at Connacht by a wide margin so Connacht fans will be happy to see him back and hoping he gets up to speed quickly.

David Hawkshaw retains his place at 10. His performance last week was not his usual standards, especially with the boot but I am confident we will see a much-improved performance this weekend from him, he is too good of a player not too. Adam Byrne and Diarmuid Kilgallen retain their places also on the wings and no Connacht fan will argue with that. Both played well last weekend, and both are physical players who should be well suited to Brive.

Conor Fitzgerald comes into full back in place of Tiernan O’Halloran. Tiernan had one of his best games in the past couple of years last weekend, but Conor Fitzgerald has shown real promise when playing at full back and having another kicking option on the field is never a bad thing, especially with his left foot. Bundee is partnered by Tom Daly in the centre.

Tom Daly hasn’t found his form of past years due to injuries so seeing him at 12 with Bundee outside him is only a good thing.

These are two very physical centres so defensively and offensively Connacht should make good gains here.

The bench is overall very inexperienced. The front row of Dave Heffernan, Jordan Duggan and Dominic Robertson-McCoy is where most of the experience lies. With that said we have not seen Jordan Duggan much this season and this is our first viewing of Robertson-McCoy this year so very hard to tell the form they will be in.

Niall Murray is second row cover and is a fantastic asset to have on the bench, but the remaining bench of Ciaran Booth, Colm Reilly, Byron Ralston, and Oran McNulty are all very talented but unproven so far, especially at this level.


  • 15. Conor Fitzgerald,
  • 14. Adam Byrne,
  • 13. Bundee Aki,
  • 12. Tom Daly,
  • 11. Diarmuid Kilgallen,
  • 10. David Hawkshaw,
  • 9. Kieran Marmion,
  • 1. Peter Dooley,
  • 2. Shane Delahunt,
  • 3. Sam Illo,
  • 4. Darragh Murray,
  • 5. Gavin Thornbury,
  • 6. Oisin Dowling,
  • 7. Shamus Hurley-Langton,
  • 8. Paul Boyle (c).


  • 16. David Heffernan,
  • 17. Jordan Duggan,
  • 18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy,
  • 19. Niall Murray,
  • 20. Ciaran Booth,
  • 21. Colm Reilly,
  • 22. Byron Ralston,
  • 23. Oran McNulty,

Brive start former Connacht players 

It is no surprise to see the trio of TieTie Tuimauga, Sammy Arnold and Abraham Papali’I named to start for Brive. These guys will have been waiting patiently for this fixture and will be raring to go and make a big impact in this game. They will want to prove that Connacht were foolish to let them leave the club.

Sammy was a great player for Connacht and went through a trojan amount of work in his last season with Connacht especially.

Papa, I feel was never fully used to his potential with Connacht and early red cards in his career with the club meant he never got a full run of games to show what he was capable of. He is a dynamic player and rugby will always be a physical game and having someone like him on your team is rarely a bad thing in my opinion. TieTie was only with Connacht for the one season but towards the end of that season was starting to really make an impact at the club, he will be a big scrummaging test this weekend for Connacht to overcome. Daniel Brennan so of former Irish great Trevor also starts on the Brive team.


  • 15. Seta Tuicuvu,
  • 14. Kevin Fabien,
  • 13. Nico Lee,
  • 12. Sam Arnold,
  • 11. Wesley Douglas,
  • 10. Nicolas Sanchez,
  • 9. Paul Abadie,
  • 1. Daniel Brennan,
  • 2. Florian Dufour,
  • 3. Tietie Tuimauga,
  • 4. Renger van Eerten,
  • 5. Tevita Ratuva,
  • 6. Retief Marais,
  • 7. Said Hireche (c),
  • 8. Abraham Papali’i.


  • 16. Vano Karkadze,
  • 17. Nathan Fraissenon,
  • 18. Pietro Ceccareli,
  • 19. Julien Delannoy,
  • 20. Matthieu Voisin,
  • 21. Enzo Sanga,
  • 22. Tom Raffy,
  • 23. Thomas Laranjeira,

Good start vital for Connacht

This game will not be easy but with Brive’s current form and their ongoing relegation battle in the Top 14, I think if Connacht can start this game well and go a score up early, I can see Brive giving up a bit and dropping their heads. On the flip side, a quick start for Brive and we could easily see a spirited performance and they could find their form again.

A quick positive start for Connacht is vital on Friday night and a win will add to the momentum for the important Christmas period.

Overall, I think an improved performance from Connacht this weekend should be enough to get the job done.

Referee: Adam Leal (England)

AR1: Alex Thomas (England)

AR2: Wayne Falla (England)

TMO: Dan Jones (England)

Broadcasters: / FloRugby

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