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Preview: Scarlets v Connacht

01st March 2012 13:21


Aaron Shingler try scarlets

Aaron Shingler: Back in domestic action

Scarlets are boosted by the return of four Welsh internationals for their RaboDirect PRO12 encounter with Connacht on Friday.

Full-back Liam Williams, prop Rhodri Jones and second rowers Lou Reed and Aaron Shingler are back in the red of Scarlets having been released from international duty.

The quartet are joined in the starting line-up by experienced fly-half Stephen Jones.

Scarlets have won their last six RaboDirect PRO12 clashes at Parc y Scarlets and boss Nigel Davies knows his side will have to up their game if they're to continue that run.

"We will have to start a lot better than we did last week, we made hard work of that first 20 minutes against Treviso, but the players showed composure and pushed on to get the four tries we needed and we know that we'll have to be intense and right on top of game to get a result on Friday," he told Scarlets' official website.

"This is another massive game for us - we need a good win and they're a tough team to face so we take nothing for granted. There's a fierce level of competition amongst all the teams in this league and it's all pretty level - there's no difference between playing a Connacht or an Ulster or a Munster anymore.

"We need to come out with the right mindset. Connacht are a well-coached side, they are very competitive and physical and will try to outmuscle us and they play some good rugby as we've seen in the Heineken Cup."

Connacht have named a relatively inexperienced team for the clash, with a number of Academy players getting a run.

With Brett Wilkinson and Mike McCarthy unavailable due to their involvement with the national side, Peter Borlase gets his first taste of Connacht action at tighthead prop. On the other side of the scrum, Ronan Loughney adds some much-needed experience as he trots out for his 100th cap.

Flanker Dave Heffernan too makes his first appearance for the senior side, and he is joined in the back row by George Naoupu and Ray Ofisa. Fellow Academy man Mick Kearney turns out in the second row.

Eoin Griffin and Dave McSharry are reunited in the midfield while Miah Nikora replaces this injured Niall O'Connor at fly-half.

"It's great to see the guys getting the reward for their hard work and dedication,"Academy manager Nigel Carolan told the club's official site of the rise of the youngsters.

"Eric (Elwood) has always said that if players are good enough and patient enough they'll get their chances so it's great to see these opportunities open up for them."

Form: Scarlets ended a three game losing streak with their 34-20 home win over Benetton Treviso on Thursday. The Welshmen have won their last six games at Parc y Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12 - their best run since 2006. Connacht's only reversal in their last four games in all competitions was 15-22 at Cardiff Blues in the PRO12 on 10 February. Connacht have won just once on the road in the tournament since September 2010: 11-9 in Treviso on 3 September. Connacht have won their last two games against Scarlets and are chasing a first ever season's double over the West Walians. Connacht have not won in Llanelli since 9 October 2004.

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Gareth Maule (capt), 12 Adam Warren, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Liam Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy. 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Aaron Shingler, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Phil John, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Nick Reynolds, 23 Liam Williams.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (C), 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 Dave Heffernan, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Peter Borlase, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Ronan Loughney.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Stewart Maguire, 19 John Muldoon, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Kyle Tonetti.

Date: Friday, March 2
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:30
Referee: Marius Mitrea
Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes and Greg Morgan

Rugby Union betting odds

  • Connacht Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Friday , December 19
Leinster vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , December 27
Ulster vs ConnachtTBC
Friday , January 9
Connacht vs Edinburgh19:35
Wednesday, January 14
Scarlets vs ConnachtTBC
Saturday , February 21
Newport Gwent D'gons vs ConnachtTBC
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , December 6
Connacht vs Bayonne17:00
Saturday , December 13
Bayonne vs Connacht19:45
Saturday , January 17
Connacht vs ExeterTBC
Saturday , January 24
La Rochelle vs ConnachtTBC
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
  • Connacht Results
Recent Results
All times are local
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Friday , October 31
Ospreys 26 - 11 Connacht
More Guinness PRO12 results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Saturday , October 18
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 10
Benetton Treviso 6 - 9 Connacht
More Guinness PRO12 results
  • Table
Guinness PRO12 Table
4Glasgow Warriors827