The second round of games in the RaboDirect Pro12 Rugby kick off tonight with Connacht, Munster & Ulster involved.
Connacht make the journey to the Arms Park to take on Cardiff after having a winning opening weekend against Zebre in Galway. John Muldoon makes his 200th appearance for the province tonight in a career that stretches back to 2004. Pat Lam brings Gavin Duffy in a fullback with the exciting Robbie Henshaw moving to 13. Tiernan O’Halloran plays on the wing with Danie Poolman on the bench. Cardiff who lost 22-15 to Glasgow last week welcome Lion Alex Cuthbert back to the wing and Dafydd Hewitt starting at inside centre. In the forwards coach Phil Davies gives South Africa’s Andries Pretorius a start in the back row. Both teams beat each other away from home last season and Pat Lam will be hoping to secure his first win on the road tonight.
Ulster will be hoping to put last week’s defeat to Newport Gwent Dragons behind them when they welcome Glasgow Warriors to Ravenhill. Ulster have made several changes since last week with Andrew Trimble forced out due to surgery required on his finger. McIlwaine moves to the wing and Cave comes into the center. At scrumhalf Marshall is replaced by Porter and Michael Allen comes in on the wing. Up front FitzPatrick starts at tighthead, Doyle starts at openside while Williams is at 8. Gregor Townsend welcomes Stuart Hogg, Ryan Grant, van der Merwe and Josh Strauss back for the Warriors after their opening weekend win against the Cardiff Blues. Ruaridh Jackson makes a start for the Warriors against last year’s beaten finalists. Ulster ran out 23-6 winners when the teams met last season at Ravenhill and Mark Anscombe will be hoping his Ulster team can get their season going with a similar win tonight.
Munster will no doubt be buoyant after their bonus point win against Edinburgh as they make the trip to Italy to face Zebre. Rob Penney has made several changes for tonight’s game as former Leinster wing Andrew Conway makes his first start or the Munster men. JJ Hanrahan replaces Ian Keatley at outhalf with Cathal Sheridan completing the half pair replacing Duncan Williams. In the forwards there are first starts for Donnacha Ryan and Ian Nagle in the second row while Damien Varley captains from the front row with Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan. Zebre lost out to Pat Lam’s Connacht in the opening weekend and have rung the changes in the front row for their first home game of the season. Salvatore Perugini and Luca Redolfini start either side of Andrea Manici is the front row. Munster will be expecting to continue their winning start against the Italian outfit who they narrowly defeated last season by just 2 points.
Edinburgh host Newport Gwent Dragons in the final game of the night at Murrayfield.The Dragons welcome Pewtner back on the wing while up front Owen Evans is loosehead prop. In the second row new boy Matthew Screech joins Adam Jones. After last week’s defeat to Munster, Edinburgh have made 5 changes. In the backs Visser and Walker come in on the wing while Leonard takes over a fly half from Francis. Nick De Luca and Dougie Fife make up the centre pairing as Atiga has a knee problem. Upfront Georgian Dimitri Basilaia starts and Ross Ford captains. Edinburgh won this fixture last season 31-24 and will be hoping for a repeat performance to get their season started.