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Published: 12:06 | 6/10/16

Connacht and Ulster make changes for derby

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made six changes to the starting XV for Friday's Guinness PRO12 inter-provincial clash with Ulster at the Sportsground.

The reigning Guinness PRO12 champions recorded their first win of the season last weekend when they defeated Edinburgh at the Sportsground but Lam has decided to make a series of changes to the starting XV for the visit of current table toppers Ulster.

Tom McCartney and Matt Healy have been ruled out of the games as a result of the injuries they sustained against Edinburgh as have Peter Robb and Kieran Marmion, who both failed fitness tests on Thursday.

McCartney's place in the front row has been taken by Dave Heffernan, while Cian Kelleher comes into the wing in place of Healy.

Tiernan O'Halloran and Niyi Adeolokin are retained in the back three as Bundee Aki once again takes his place in the centre where he is joined by Craig Ronaldson. Caolin Blade partners Jack Carty in the half-back line.

Heffernan takes his place in the front row alongside Finlay Bealham and Conor Carey, while Ultan Dillane will lock down with Andrew Browne in the second row. Eoin McKeon, Jake Hennan and John Muldoon are retained in the back row.

Connacht (XV v Ulster): T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson, C Kelleher; J Carty, C Blade; F Bealham, D Heffernan, C Carey, U Dillane, A Browne, E McKeon, J Heenan, J Muldoon.

Replacements: S Delahunt, R Loughney, JP Cooney, L Stevenson, J Connolly, S Kerins, S O'Leary, S Ili.

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss has also made changes to his starting XV from the one that defeated Ospreys last weekend.

Tommy Bowe came through the game against Ospreys and is named on the right wing for his first start in six months. He is joined in the back three by Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne, who switches to full-back.

Darren Cave is retained at inside centre and he is joined in the midfield by Louis Ludik, while Paddy Jackson and Paul Marshall take their place in the half-back line.

Callum Black comes into the front row alongside Rory Best and Rodney Ah You, with Robbie Diack locking down with Pete Browne in the second row. Clive Ross starts at openside flanker with Iain Henderson getting the nod at blindside. Roger Wilson completes the pacl.

Ulster (XV v Connacht): J Payne; T Bowe, L Ludik, D Cave, C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; C Black, R Best, R Ah You, R Diack, P Browne, I Henderson, C Ross, R Wilson.

Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, R Kane, K Treadwell, S Reidy, D Shanahan, B Herron, R Lyttle.

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