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Magners Preview: Connacht v Llanelli

Magners Preview: Connacht v Llanelli

The Scarlets are chasing their third win in seven days but have not won in Ireland since February 2005, and Connacht will be brimming with confidence after defeats of the Borders and Ospreys.

…Connacht winger Conor McPhillips tackles Barry Davies during last season’s meeting at the Sportsground…

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The Scarlets are chasing their third win in seven days but have not won in Ireland since last year, and Connacht will be brimming with confidence after defeats of the Borders and Ospreys.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 16

CONNACHT v LLANELLI, The Sportsground, 6.30pm

**IrishRugby.ie will be supplying live score updates from the Sportsground**

Team News: Connacht are unchanged from last week’s 15-10 win over the Ospreys.

There is one alteration on the replacements bench with John Hearty replacing thigh injury victim Darren Yapp. With Ireland squad call-up John Fogarty remaining on the bench, top-scoring out-half Mark McHugh will captain the province again.

Llanelli, for the second game running, have named a side showing five changes to the previous starting line-up. There are also two positional changes with captain and Ireland flanker Simon Easterby moving to openside to allow James Bater a start on the blindside, while Matthew Watkins moves back to his preferred position of centre as Dafydd James returns to the left wing.

Elsewhere, Dwayne Peel is rested as Clive Stuart-Smith gets a run-out at scrum half while Phil John replaces Iestyn Thomas at loosehead prop and Adam Jones takes over from Lou Reed in the second row. Nathan Thomas comes in for Alix Popham at number eight.

There is also a return to the matchday 22 for Wales winger Mark Jones.

Connacht: Matt Mostyn; Conor McPhillips, Paul Warwick, Gavin Williams, Keith Matthews; Mark McHugh (capt), Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Stephen Knoop, David Gannon, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon, Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Michael Diffley, Michael Swift, Brendan O’Connor, Tom Tierney, John Hearty, Daniel Riordan.

Llanelli: Ceiron Thomas; Darren Daniel, Matthew Watkins, Gavin Evans, Dafydd James; Stephen Jones, Clive Stuart-Smith; Phil John, Matthew Rees, Deacon Manu, Adam Jones, Scott Macleod, James Bater, Simon Easterby (capt), Nathan Thomas.

Replacements: Iestyn Thomas, Ken Owens, Inoke Afeaki, Alix Popham, Dwayne Peel, Mark Jones, Regan King.

Referee: Graeme Hannah (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Peter Fitzgibbon, Mark Hermin (both Ireland)

Coach Speak: Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “It was superb last Friday the way the supporters got right behind the side, especially in the second half when the game was hanging in the balance. That backing has to be worth a score or two. Let’s hope we can build on the Friday night experience and the fan base will continue to grow in the coming weeks.”

Phil Davies (Llanelli) – “We are aware of the challenge we face against Connacht. They beat the Ospreys last weekend so are obviously in top form. They are the type of side who never gives up but after our win against the Dragons, we will go there with plenty of confidence.”


October 2003 – Connacht 20 Llanelli 25, Dubarry Park
March 2004 – Llanelli 30 Connacht 30, Stradey Park
October 2004 – Llanelli 21 Connacht 29, Stradey Park
February 2005 – Connacht 11 Ospreys 18, Dubarry Park
September 2005 – Llanelli 25 Connacht 17, Racecourse Ground
February 2006 – Connacht 33 Llanelli 19, The Sportsgound


– Connacht have made the perfect start the new season with wins over the Borders and Ospreys. Added to this, the westerners also won their last game of the 2005/06 league season against Glasgow, with this current three-game run representing the best winning sequence Connacht have achieved since 2002/03

– Llanelli won their second game in four days when they beat the Dragons 23-22 at Rodney Parade on Tuesday and they are going for three wins in-a-row in the competition for the first time since the turn of the year

– The Scarlets have not won in Ireland since an 18-11 victory over Connacht in Athlone in February 2005. The Welsh region have a slight edge in previous meetings with Connacht – they have won three to Connacht’s two with one game drawn

– Connacht centre Paul Warwick will be a marked man at the Sportsground on Friday. The former Australian Sevens captain has scored in each of the last four meetings between Connacht and the Scarlets. That is 38 points in four outings, including a 21-point haul (a try, two conversions and four penalties) in last season’s 33-19 victory in Galway

– The sides have both managed to score a try in each of the six previous league meetings between the two. Connacht’s total try tally against the Scarlets comes to 16 – Conor McPhillips, Wayne Munn and Paul Warwick have scored two each. The Welsh region’s try tally v Connacht stands at 15. Departed scrum half Mike Phillips is their leading try scorer against the province with three

– Notably, the Scarlets’ young winger Darren Daniel touched down on his last visit to the Sportsground – he is the current top try scorer in the Magners League with four tries