RaboDirect PRO12 preview: Scarlets v Connacht
Last Updated: 28/03/14 5:18pm
Jake Ball (right): Returns to the Scarlets' ranks
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.
Sat 16th May
Cardiff Blues29 - 5Zebre
Connacht20 - 24Ospreys
Edinburgh23 - 36Leinster
Glasgow Warriors32 - 10Ulster
Munster50 - 27Dragons
Treviso13 - 17Scarlets
Fri 22nd May - Semi-final
Sat 23rd May - Semi-final
Munster0 - 0Ospreys