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Preview: Scarlets Rugby v Connacht Rugby

GUINNESS PRO12

Scarlets have never lost four in a row at Parc y Scarlets and head coach Wayne Pivac hopes the home crowd can help them avoid a piece of unwanted history on Saturday against Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht.

Scarlets have failed to register a single league point from any of their last four fixtures but have never lost four in a row at the venue since moving there in 2008.

Connacht are also pointless so far this season in defence of their crown but their last game against Zebre was called off at half-time.

And Pivac knows his side will need to be at their best to begin climbing the table after their sluggish start.

“Given where both sides are heading into this game, with both sides in the top six last season and Connacht of course going on to win the championship, we want to repeat the dose and be there towards the end of the season,” he said.

“Having said that, all we’re focusing on is the group we’ve got now and where we need to improve. We don’t have too much time to focus too much on what happened last year. For us it’s being the best we can be on a given day.

“It’ll be a great contest; you wouldn’t want to be the team that comes off second! This really is a big game for us.

“It’s good to be back at home here at the Parc and the boys are very much looking forward to it. Hopefully there’ll be a boisterous crowd here to lift the team and get a decent performance out of it.”
Pivac has made one change to the side that was defeated by Ulster last weekend.

The one change sees Aaron Shingler return to the starting line-up at blindside flanker with Lewis Rawlins moving to the replacements bench.

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made six changes – Irish internationals Matt Healy, Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux and Ultan Dillane are all brought in to the side.

Connacht Rugby

Along with Roux, Jake Heenan makes a welcome return from injury and his first appearance of the season.

Dillane starts in the back row for the first time along with Heenan and captain John Muldoon.
Connacht have not won away at the Scarlets since 2004 but Lam is feeling positive.

“With more guys coming back from injury, it’s pleasing to be able to select a bit more experience in our side,” he said.

“Quinn (Roux) and Jake (Heenan) returning is obviously a boost and it helps drive more competition within the squad.

“Although we have never won at Parc y Scarlets before, we are really excited by the challenge to try and create a small bit of history.

“While both teams are obviously determined to get points on the table, our focus remains on the quality of our performance.”

Scarlets: Thomas; L.Williams, Jo.Davies, Parkes, Evans; Patchell, G.Davies; Jones, Owens [c], Kruger, Ball, Bulbring, Shingler, Ja.Davies, Barclay

Replacements: Elias, Garrett, Edwards, Rawlins, Allen, A.Davies, S.Williams, Boyde

Connacht: O’Halloran; Adeolokun, Aki, Griffin, Healy; Carty, Marmion; Buckley , McCartney, Bealham, Roux, Bealham, Dillane, Heenan, Muldoon

Replacements: Heffernan, Loughney, Cooney, Stevenson, McKeon, Blade, O’Leary, Kelleher

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 26, Scarlets won 17, Connacht won 8 and 1 game drawn.

At Parc y Scarlets, 7.35pm. Live on S4C and TG4
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 83rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Keith Allen (SRU), Leighton Hodges (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Ray Wilton (WRU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)

Match Stats - Lineups