European Rugby Challenge Cup
Venue: Galway Sportsground Date: Saturday, 1-2 January Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live score updates on BBC local radio and on the BBC Sport website

Fullback Tiernan O’Halloran has recovered from the leg injury that ruled him from this festive period and can start against Sale on Saturday.

Bundee Aki also returns as Connacht try to leapfrog their competitors on top of Pool three.

Sale will be without Josh Beaumont and Byron McGuigan for the Visit to Galway since they miss out because of injury.

Meanwhile, Andrei Ostrikov returns to the side after serving a suspension and also Cameron Redpath starts on the bench.

O’Halloran leaves his timely return to the rear three alongside Cian Kelleher, who this week announced he would be returning to his native state Leinster by the conclusion of the summer season.

Prop Denis Buckley will make his 150th appearance to the state after sickness meant he was a late withdrawal from last week’s loss to Munster.

European Challenge Cup Pool Three
PWDLPts
Sale Sharks430116
Connacht430113
Bordeaux-Begles41126
Perpignan40132

Connacht won just one of their three recent inter-provincial derbies although impressed in stages in their defeats by Leinster and Munster.

A win available would secure top position in Pool Three while some Connacht victory would set the western state in a solid position for excellence going into the last round of pool fixtures.

“Sale are a really good side and we watched the caliber they’ve once we played them away earlier in the summer,” Connacht head coach Andy Buddy told the club site.

“ever since that time, we’ve improved with every match and we picked up a key away win against Perpignan at your contest before Christmas.”

Sale: Ashton; Solomona, S James, O’Connor, Reed; Wilkinson, de Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Phillips, Ross (capt), Curry, Strauss.

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