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- Guinness PRO12
- 30th Mar 2014
- KO 14:05
- Ground: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
- Att: 6,111
RaboDirect PRO12 preview: Scarlets v Connacht
Scarlets are boosted by the return of three internationals as they prepare for Sunday's vital clash with Connacht.
Head Coach Simon Easterby welcomes back Ken Owens, Rhodri Jones and Jake Ball into the Scarlets' ranks as his team look to maintain an unbeaten home record against these opponents that dates back to October 2004.
Also returning to action for the Welsh side are Rhys Priestland, Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies, who will captain the side in the absence of Rob McCusker.
A delighted Easterby told the club's website "Despite coping reasonably well during the Six Nations campaign the quality the boys bring to the table now is important.
"This week is about putting in the performance and we've had a little more time together to prepare and for the players to get back into their patterns.
"The likes of Rhys and Jon have a lot of responsibility in terms of performance, they'll be able to lead us through the last five games; there are plenty of positives still to come!"
Connacht go into Sunday's clash on the back of four successive wins and are now just four points behind the hosts, in seventh place. Conversely, they have lost their last four encounters with Scarlets. "Their scrum and line-out drive has been really effective and our discipline has got to be spot on against them.
"They've started to find their feet under Pat Lam and they have a really effective set piece, driving line-out and scrum, they're well equipped pretty much right across the park," said Easterby.
Lam has again been able to name an unchanged line-up, meaning that hooker Jason Harris-Wright will make his 40th appearance for Connacht, while back-rower John Muldoon will captain the side as he looks to add to the four tries he has scored in his last two matches.
Speaking on the team's website, Head Coach Lam said "Being able to put out the same team for the third fixture in a row is testament to the performance of those players selected. The recent team performances have been driven by huge competition for places within the squad.
"Our training has certainly gone up another level in the last number of weeks and we have some experienced and quality players in key positions all pushing hard for a starting place. It makes selection tough in one way but it is also great to see the guys named striving to perform on behalf of the entire squad."
Scarlets: 15 Williams, 14 Phillips, 13 Davies ©, 12 Barkley, 11 Williams, 10 Priestland, 9 Davies; 1 John, 2 Owens, 3 Jones, 4 Ball, 5 Snyman, 6 Turnbull, 7 Barclay, 8 Timani. Replacements: 16 Phillips, 17 Evans, 18 Adriaanse, 19 Kelly, 20 Rawlins, 21 Williams, 22 Thomas, 23 Maule.
Connacht: 15 Henshaw, 14 O'Halloran, 13 Griffin, 12 McSharry, 11 Carr, 10 Parks, 9 Marmion; 1 Buckley, 2 Harris-Wright, 3 Ah You, 4 Muldowney, 5 Kearney, 6 Muldoon ©, 7 Masterson, 8 McKeon.
Replacements: 16 Heffernan, 17 Loughney, 18 White, 19 Swift, 20 Browne, 21 Murphy, 22 Nikora, 23 Leader.
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
|Saturday 1st November|
|Ulster 23 - 6 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Scarlets 28 - 13 Zebre|
|Cardiff Blues 24 - 28 Munster|
|Friday 31st October|
|Ospreys 26 - 11 Connacht|
|Glasgow 17 - 9 Benetton Treviso|
|Leinster 33 - 8 Edinburgh|
|Sunday 12th October|
|Ospreys 26 - 15 Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 11th October|
|Ulster 29 - 9 Glasgow|
|Zebre 3 - 20 Leinster|
|Edinburgh 24 - 10 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Friday 10th October|
|Munster 17 - 6 Scarlets|
|Benetton Treviso 6 - 9 Connacht|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com