Planet Rugby



Preview: Connacht v Scarlets

09th September 2011 12:16


dan newton scarlets 2011

At fly-half: Dan Newton

Two new Scarlets will pull on the jersey for their region on Saturday, as they travel for the second RaboDirect PRO12 league fixture with Connacht.

With five home-grown Scarlets making their Rugby World Cup debuts on the big stage out in Wellington this weekend, the next generation are stepping up in regional colours, with another young Scarlet who is making an impression - 20-year-old Swansea winger Liam Williams getting his first opportunity.

Williams gets his first start for the region after a successful campaign both with Wales U20 and Llanelli RFC last season. The strong, quick young wing scored three tries in his eight appearances at international level in the Six Nations and World Championships campaigns earlier this year.

And the eagerly-awaited arrival on the pitch in Scarlets colours of specialist signing Ruki Tipuna will excite supporters. Paperwork from New Zealand finally arrived Thursday after sustained chasing from the Scarlets, to clear the region's new scrum-half for duty.

"You know what rugby means to the Scarlets and its supporters from the outside and now seeing the Scarlets stadium and set-up here, you can really understand that they've got a really strong rugby community - similar to back home," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to it, it's something new for me and nice to have a fresh start. I'm excited about the opportunities and can't wait to get going now."

The journey to Galway comes on the back of an important and solid first win at home and securing four league points last week against Aironi - winning 32-9.

A former Dragons duo will make up the centre partnership with newly appointed Scarlets vice-captain Gareth Maule returning from a shoulder injury to take his place back in the centre alongside Lampeter born Rhodri Gomer-Davies who has impressed and says he's delighted to be playing in his native Scarlets region.

Meanwhile, Connacht have named an unchanged XV from that which beat Treviso last Saturday with just two changes on the bench.

Brett Wilkinson has recovered from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of World Cup contention. The 27-year-old loosehead prop, who has earned 118 caps for Connacht to date replaces Denis Buckley while Stewart Maguire will look to make his first competitive appearance for the province, he replaces Dylan Rogers as the replacement tighthead prop.

Form: The last four matches between the two sides have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Scarlets have not been victorious at the Sportsground since January 2009. Connacht beat Benetton Treviso 11-9 in Italy last weekend in the opening round of the RaboDirect PRO12 but have not won their opening two fixtures in the competition since 2005/06. Connacht's 12-26 defeat at the Sportsground in their last home game ended a six game home winning run. Scarlets also beat Italian opposition in round one, overcoming Aironi 32-9 at Parc y Scarlets. The Welshmen have won their last three matches in the tournament but are winless in their last seven encounters against opponents from Ireland.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Matthew Jarvis, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Ronan Loughney.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Stewart Maguire, 19 TJ Anderson, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Brian Tuohy.

Scarlets: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Lee Williams, 13 Rhodri Gomer-Davies 12 Gareth Maule, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Newton, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Rob McCusker, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Aaron Shingler, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Iestyn Thomas (capt).
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Phil John, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Johnathan Edwards, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Adam Warren.

Date: Saturday, September 10
Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)
Venue: Sportsground
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Peter Roche (both IRFU)

Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IFRU)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (IRFU)

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Pool 3
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3Leicester Tigers24