Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR, 6th competition game)
It’s been a massive week for Connacht with the announcement that Scottish legend Dan Parks will join them at the end of the season and last weekend the province claimed their first win in the RaboDirectPRO 12 since early September.
That win helped Connacht to leap-frog their Scottish opponents into tenth position and a win over Scarlets this Friday, (KO 7.30pm) could move them up to ninth.
Scarlets overcame Treviso last weekend, ending a three match unbeaten run while Connacht has won two, and drawn one, out of their last four games in all competitions including that famous win over Harlequins in the Heineken Cup.
The Welsh side has not lost at Parc y Scarlets in six games, the clubs best run since 2006, while Connacht has only won once on the road this season at Treviso.
On team news, there have been several personnel changes for Connacht and Coach Eric Elwood has handed league debuts to prop Peter Borlase and back-rower Dave Heffernan due, in most part, to Brett Wilkinson and Mike McCarthy’s involvement with the National side
Eoin Griffin and Dave McSharry renew the centre partnership last seen in action in Connacht’s Heineken Cup match against Gloucester while Miah Nikora replaces this injured Niall O’Connor at outhalf.
Speaking about the inclusion of three academy players Academy Manager Nigel Carolan said:
“It’s great to see the guys getting the reward for their hard work and dedication. Eric (Elwood) has always said that if players are good enough and patient enough they’ll get their chances so it’s great to see these opportunities open up for them.”
The Irish province won the corresponding fixture at the Sportsground in September, by two points, and Elwood’s men will be looking for a rare double over a Welsh outfit that will be without most of their International contingent.
(15-9) Gavin Duffy (C), Fetu’u Vainikolo, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Tiernan O’Halloran, Miah Nikora, Frank Murphy.
(1-8) Ronan Loughney, Adrian Flavin, Peter Borlase, Michael Swift, Mick Kearney, Dave Heffernan, Ray Ofisa, George Naoupu.
16 Ethienne Reynecke17 Denis Buckley18 Stewart Maguire19 John Muldoon20 Eoghan Grace21 Dave Moore22 Matthew Jarvis23 Kyle Tonetti