Connacht have struggled to cope with the step up in quality in the European Champions Cup this season and it looks like Bristol Bears can put the Westerners out of their misery on Friday night.
With just one point from their first three outings and no win, Connacht are rock-bottom of Pool 1 going into the final round of matches before the last 16.
Bristol harbour hopes of finishing in the top four and they will be looking to make sure that Saracens, who sit alongside them in Pool 1 five points, have to rack up a big score against Lyon on Saturday.
Connacht have been boosted by the return of Tiernan O’Halloran following a foot injury he sustained in early December.
The full-back’s return is one of eight changes from the side that suffered a 34-20 defeat at the hands of Lyon last time out.
Bundee Aki and David Hawkshaw form a new-look partnership in the centre, while JJ Hanrahan returns at fly-half outside scrum-half Caolin Blade.
Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham return to the front-row, while Niall Murray returns to partner former Bear Joe Joyce in the second-row.
Shamus Hurley-Langton comes in at openside flanker alongside Cian Prendergast and number eight Jarrad Butler in the back-row.
As for Bristol, skipper Fitz Harding returns from injury, in one of five changes made by Pat Lam from last weekend’s 31-17 loss to the Bulls.
Returning Kyle Sinckler will be looking to put in a big performance after being a notable absentee from England’s 2024 Six Nations squad.
Jake Woolmore is back in the front-row alongside Sinckler, while Harry Randall starts at scrum-half to make his tenth Champions Cup appearance, a joint-club record for the Bears.
Virimi Vakatawa and Kalaveti Ravouvou will add pace and power on their return to what is a formidable backline.
Connacht are 8/15 to win at the Galway Greyhound Stadium on Friday, while Bristol are available at 13/8 to record their second win of the Champions Cup campaign.
A tie on the night is on offer at 18/1.
Bristol to win @ 13/8
It’s been a tough Champions Cup campaign for Connacht and their defence has been the main reason they look destined for an early exit.
The Westerners have conceded an unenviable 130 points in their first three outings, at an average of 43.3 points a game.
Bristol have been ticking along nicely in the Premiership in attack, scoring an average of 24.5 points across their first 11 games of the domestic campaign.
The return of Vakatawa and Ravouvou, to an already sizable Bristol back division, is likely to cause even more problems for this Connacht defence.
With Connacht best focusing purely on the United Rugby Championship for the remainder of the campaign, Bristol represent excellent value at 13/8 to head back across the Irish Sea with the victory.
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