Connacht aim to spring one more surprise in Pro12 final


Having exceeded expectations throughout the Pro12 season, Connacht can crown a superb campaign by defying the odds again in Saturday's final with Leinster at Murrayfield.

While three-time European champions Leinster have won the Pro12 on four occasions, most recently claiming back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014, their opponents this weekend will be featuring in their first major final.

Under the stewardship of Pat Lam, Connacht ended the regular season level on points with leaders Leinster - a significant improvement on the previous campaign's seventh-placed finish that had represented their best effort.

Connacht will start as underdogs in Edinburgh, but are boosted by the fact Lam has been able to name the same 23-man squad that ended Glasgow Warriors' title defence in the semi-finals.

Lam said: "It's exciting that this is the first time in 31 games that we've been able to name the same matchday squad from one week to the next.

"These 23 players are the fortunate ones who have earned the opportunity to wear the jersey and represent their team-mates and the whole of Connacht in our first final."

John Muldoon captains Connacht in his 275th appearance for the province, but Leinster are without their skipper, Isa Nacewa, after he aggravated an old arm injury in his team's semi-final triumph over Ulster.

Rob Kearney returns from an ankle problem to replace Nacewa at full-back, while Jamie Heaslip will lead Leinster and Ross Molony starts in place of Devin Toner.

A week on from being named in the England squad for the first time, centre Ben Te'o has shaken off a knock to play his final game for Leinster before moving to Worcester Warriors for the 2016-17 season.

The spoils were shared in the two regular-season meetings between the sides, which produced a combined total of just 26 points.