Captain Clarke returns as Connacht dream of quarter-final spot

Murray Kinsella
Captain Clarke returns as Connacht dream of quarter-final spot

Connacht have been boosted by the return of Craig Clarke ahead of the Heineken Cup Pool 3 clash with Saracens on Saturday at Allianz Park.

The New Zealander, who has swiftly risen to the captaincy role at the province, was joined by fellow second row Aly Muldowney and out-half Craig Ronaldson back on the pitch as head coach Pat Lam’s options increased in two important positions.

All three players will be available for selection against Saracens, as will lock Mick Kearney, who was forced off the pitch in the first half of last weekend’s 20-3 victory against Zebre. The 22-year-old suffered a shoulder injury but Connacht’s medical staff remain optimistic that he will recover.

Connacht are third in Pool 3 coming into this weekend, but remain just two points behind second-placed Saracens. That means they still have a chance of advancing to the knock-out stages of the tournament, but Lam’s side would require results elsewhere to go their way as well as beating the Premiership leaders.

Regardless of what happens this weekend, the western province have made progress in the Heineken Cup this season, particularly with the shock victory away to Toulouse in December. Connacht have already reached their highest points tally in three seasons of involvement in the elite European club competition.

The Connacht Eagles are also in action again this weekend, welcoming Llanelli RFC to the Sportsground for the final round of the British & Irish Cup.

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