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Connacht v Scarlets: Teams
At the Sportsground, Saturday September 15, kick-off 3.00pm
Connacht will be hoping to halt Scarlets' blistering start to the new RaboDirect PRO12 season at the Sportsground.
The Welshmen have won their opening two fixtures and lead the way while Connacht gained a first win against Zebre last Friday.
The Scarlets have made eight changes to their starting XV for Saturday's PRO12 clash in Galway. Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby brings in a few new faces to his matchday squad and mixes up experience and youth with a number of player rotations for the contest.
Young Scarlets talent Jordan Williams gets his senior Scarlets debut at full-back where he replaces his namesake Liam Williams while new signing Australian Welsh-qualified second row Jake Ball is on the bench and gets his first opportunity to appear in his regional colours.
Wales international centre Jon Davies takes the captain's armband for the first time in his Scarlets rugby career.
Other changes to the back-line from last weekend's run-on side against Glasgow sees Gareth Davies replacing Tavis Knoyle at scrum-half, while Nick Reynolds comes in for Andy Fenby on the wing.
Amongst the forwards, Samson Lee starts at tight-head in his first competitive start and Phil John at loose-head prop, Sione Timani joins Richard Kelly in the second row. Lee takes over from Fiji international Deacon Manu while John and Timani come in for Rhodri Jones and George Earle respectively.
In the back row, Kieran Murphy starts at number eight with Scarlets skipper Rob McCusker on the bench and Josh Turnbull replaces Aaron Shingler on the flank.
Scarlets attack coach Mark Jones expects a tough assignment, commenting: "We haven't had a great record at the Sportsground and have tripped up on our last two visits with narrow losses, so we don't put ourselves in a position where we are fighting a tight margin at the end of the game.
"We will need to be ruthless and get ahead and then protect that lead. There is certainly no complacency in this side and absolutely no expectation on winning."
Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has made six changes to his run-on side for the encounter. Injury has forced an entire new back row and sees Andrew Browne named as blindside flanker.
This is Browne's first game back since he was injured during the 2011 pre-season. Willie Faloon and Eoin McKeon complete the all new back row and replace Johnny O'Connor and George Naopu respectively.
Brett Wilkinson will start in the loosehead prop position while new signing Nathan White gets his first start as tighthead prop. In the backs, Dave McSharry has been promoted to a starting berth, replacing Mata Fifita in the centre.
Elwood was very pleased with his team's performance in their 30-17 win over Zebre in Parma last week but knows there is a lot of work to do this weekend.
"We played well in Zebre scoring three tries away from home and securing our first win of the season," said Elwood. "The lads showed huge character in Italy, especially when we were forced into making so many changes in the second half.
"Tomorrow poses another challenge as Scarlets are top of the league and are playing very well. They've had a great start to the season, scoring 10 tries in the process."
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (c), 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Dennis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 David Gannon, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Robbie Henshaw.
Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies (c), 12 Scott Williams, 11 Nick Reynolds 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy. 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Peter Edwards, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Saturday 20th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors vs Munster|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Ulster|
|Sunday 21st December|
|16:00||Dragons vs Zebre|
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|18:45||Ulster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|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|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com