Scarlets v Connacht Rugby – Preview & team news – Live on BBC Wales

It’s going to be another tough match for Connacht Rugby as they face the reigning champions Scarlets, its a strong Connacht team for the 7:35pm Kick off live on BBC Wales. 

Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane was fully aware of when he spoke to journalists ahead of the game: “They are very expensive, very well skilled and a well-drilled team. We are going over to beat them obviously. We have put in place a plan that we think could trouble them, but they are a quality side and you don’t become champions for nothing.

“Decision-making has really been a focal point for us. We have hard workers, we have good players, and we have structures they are coming to grips with that will create opportunities, which we haven’t been able to exploit yet. So, putting a little bit of polish on the rough diamond is what we are looking to achieve.”
Looking ahead to the cross conference clash Scarlets coach Pivac said; “It was important last week to get back to those winning ways and to get a bonus point against a tricky opponent. It wasn’t the prettiest performance but the boys did well to get the bonus point.”Connacht is our biggest focus. What we don’t want to do is take an eye off the ball and drop four or five points this week. First thing’s first is Connacht and making sure we get the performance right and that we improve in the areas that we need to from the Edinburgh experience.”

He went on to say; “This group of players now they want to win every week and so it’s a different mentality and focus. It’s come with time. When you have a season like we did last year, that’s what the players do the hard work for. To see the joy in the changing room each week it builds an atmosphere in the group and they understand that each game is very important.”


Hooker Tom McCartney will captain the team from the front row alongside Denis Buckley and Conor Carey. In the back-row Jake Heenan and Eoin McKeon come into the side, for their second and first starts of the season respectively.

The side is also boosted by the return of Tiernan O’Halloran from injury and he takes his place on the wing with Darragh Leader being retained at full-back. After coming off the bench against Cardiff last week, Tom Farrell forms the centre pairing with Bundee Aki. Caolin Blade gets his second start of the season as he forms a half back partnership with Jack Carty.

Connacht Rugby
(15-9) Darragh Leader, Tiernan O’Halloran, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (Capt), Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Jake Heenan, Jarrad Butler, Eoin McKeon

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Denis Coulson, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.

Head Coach Wayne Pivac has been forced to make three changes due to injury with Gareth Davies, Samson Lee and John Barclay all unavailable due as they follow return to play protocols following head knocks on the weekend. Centre Hadleigh Parkes passed his HIA on the weekend but has been rested for Friday’s clash.Centre Scott Williams returns to the starting line up with Aled Davies coming in at scrum half in two backline changes.

Tighthead prop Werner Kruger, who crossed the whitewash for his first Scarlets try last Saturday, replaces Samson Lee in the front row. David Bulbring and Tadhg Beirne exchange places to starting line up and bench respectively whilst Josh Macleod fills the number eight berth in place of John Barclay.

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny Mcnicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens ©, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Jake Ball, 5 David Bulbring, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Will Boyde, 8 Josh MacleodReplacements; Emyr Phillips, Dylan Evans, Simon Gardiner, Tadhg Beirne, Lewis Rawlins, Jonathan Evans, Paul Asquith, Tom Prydie


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