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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
|Friday 13th February|
|19:35||Ulster vs Treviso|
|20:05||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 14th February|
|19:35||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 15th February|
|12:45||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|13:00||Zebre vs Glasgow Warriors|
|15:00||Leinster vs Dragons|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:05||Treviso vs Cardiff Blues|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Ulster|
|19:35||Leinster vs Zebre|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:40||Scarlets vs Munster|
|17:15||Glasgow Warriors vs Ospreys|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|16:00||Dragons vs Connacht|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:35||Ospreys vs Leinster|
|19:35||Ulster vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 28th February|
|19:15||Munster vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Sunday 1st March|
|12:45||Cardiff Blues vs Edinburgh|
|17:00||Zebre vs Dragons|
|17:15||Connacht vs Treviso|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:35||Cardiff Blues vs Connacht|
|19:35||Glasgow Warriors vs Zebre|
|Saturday 7th March|
|14:40||Ospreys vs Munster|
|17:15||Scarlets vs Leinster|
|18:00||Treviso vs Edinburgh|
|Sunday 8th March|
|16:00||Dragons vs Ulster|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:35||Leinster vs Glasgow Warriors|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com