Connacht 29 - 22 Cardiff Blues
HT 14-7
Sat 13 April 15:00 The Sportsground Ref: Mike Adamson Guinness PRO14

Preview: Connacht v Cardiff Blues

Mon 8 Apr 2019 15:30 Preview: Connacht v Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues travel to Galway for a season-defining Guinness PRO14 encounter against Connacht, and with two games remaining in the campaign, both sides look to gain an edge in the race for the top three.

Only four points separate the sides heading into Saturday's encounter, with both teams on a run of three victories in the last four Championship games.

Cardiff Blues have made three changes to the side that lost in Munster last time, with Jason Harries, Ethan Lewis and George Earle all introduced while Gareth Anscombe is named skipper at the sold-out Sportsground.

Jarrod Evans and Dmitri Arhip are welcomed back to the bench after missing the trip to Cork through injury.

Meanwhile, Connacht have made two changes of their own, with Paul Boyle and Ireland centre, Bundee Aki, drafted into the starting XV.

Former Cardiff Blues back row, Robin Copeland, features on the bench, alongside Brecon-raised Kieran Marmion, who played age grade rugby with Cardiff Blues.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harries; Gareth Anscombe (capt.), Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Ethan Lewis, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Seb Davies

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Carre, Dmitri Arhip, Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Lloyd Williams, Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran; Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga'a, Jarrad Butler (capt.)

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Robin Copeland, Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly, Cian Kelleher

Last Time Out: Cardiff Blues 8 Connacht 7

Owen Lane's stunning acrobatic score proved the difference between the sides in a tense affair at the Arms Park earlier this season.

Steven Shingler had given the hosts an early lead from the tee, before Lane linked up with scrum half Lloyd Williams for the match winner.

There was late drama as Paul Boyle wrestled his way over to bring the hosts back within a point in the closing stages.

Head to Head: Jack Carty v Gareth Anscombe

It's almost a month since Carty and Anscombe last shared the pitch on the biggest stage of them all.

The Connacht number 10 was a 72nd-minute replacement for Ireland in Wales' emphatic 25-7 victory at Principality Stadium in the final round of Guinness Six Nations action.

Anscombe was named man-of-the-match on the day, setting up Hadleigh Parkes for a crucial try and adding 20 points from the boot as Wales clinched the Grand Slam.

With trademark tricky conditions expected in Galway on Saturday afternoon, the game management skills of both players, and their ability to handle pressure, could prove vital in the result.