Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Scarlets v Connacht

Charlie Bennett 28 Sep 2017

Two teams with contrasting starts to the new season clash at Parc y Scarlets on Friday night as defending champions Scarlets go up against Connacht.

What’s at stake? Scarlets have won three of their first four games, picking up where they left off last season and look every bit as good as they did in that march to the title. But Connacht, who they dethroned as champions, have not enjoyed a super September, losing narrowly 17-15 to Cardiff Blues last weekend.

Team news (Scarlets): Following last weekend’s bonus-point win against Edinburgh, Scarlets have made five changes to their side. Gareth Davies, Samson Lee and John Barclay are all out through injury, while centre Hadleigh Parkes is rested. Scott Williams returns to the first team, along with scrum-half Aled Davies.

Team news (Connacht): Hooker Tom McCartney is set to captain a Connacht side that has rung the changes for the trip to West Wales. Tiernan O’Halloran returns from injury to start on the wing, while Darragh Leader keeps his place at full-back. Tom Farrell partners Bundee Aki in the centres, while Caolin Blade makes his second start of the season at half-back alongside Jack Carty.

Key battle: Steff Evans v Tiernan O’Halloran

Connacht will hope Tiernan O’Halloran can provide a spark in attack, but it’s without the ball where they will need him at his best. Opposite wing Steff Evans lit up the Guinness PRO14 last season, with his pace ripping defences apart. The 23-year-old is a key part of Scarlets’ gameplan, but in O’Halloran he comes up against a steady defensive rock. How O’Halloran, more traditionally used at full-back, fares out wide will be crucial to the final result.

Key stat: Scarlets have won their last 12 matches at Parc y Scarlets in the league since Munster beat them there on the opening round last season.

Did you know? Scarlets have lost only one Guinness PRO14 encounter since early March: 27-20 to Ulster in Belfast in round 3 this season

Scarlets: L Halfpenny, J Mcnicholl, J Davies, S Williams, S Evans, R Patchell, A Davies, R Evans, K Owens, W Kruger, J Ball, D Bulbring, A Shingler, W Boyde, J Macleod

Replacements: E Phillips, D Evans, S Gardiner, T Beirne, L Rawlins, J Evans, P Asquith, T Prydie

Connacht: D Leader, T O’Halloran, B Aki, T Farrell, C Kelleher, J Carty, C Blade, D Buckley, T McCartney, C Carey, U Dillane, Q Roux, J Heenan, J Butler, E McKeon

Replacements: S Delahunt, D Coulson, F Bealham, G Thornbury, E Masterson, K Marmion, S Crosbie, E Griffin.

TV: BBC Wales (7.35pm KO)

Match officials – Referee:  Nigel Owens (WRU) AR1: Ben Whitehouse (WRU), AR2: John Hardy (WRU)

TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Scarlets hold on to beat Connacht in thriller

Charlie Bennett 29 Sep 2017

Jack Carty’s missed conversion proved crucial as Scarlets held on to beat Connacht in a thrilling encounter.

The fly-half had a chance to level the scores with just five minutes to go, but he pulled it wide allowing the champions held on to secure a memorable win.

Winger Steff Evans was on fire for Scarlets as he scored one try and set up two others in a breathless first half – which saw seven tries scored.

Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran was also excellent and scored twice, but the Irish side were always chasing the game and could not quite get level.

Scarlets handed centre Scott Williams his first start of the season, but they were without the key trio of Gareth Davies, Samson Lee and John Barclay.

Connacht also made multiple changes, the most notable saw O’Halloran return from injury and start on the wing.

But the hosts led in the seventh minute as Lions centre Jonathan Davies bulldozed his way through before supplying winger Johnny McNicholl to cross.

However, any home fans expecting a comfortable night were disappointed as Connacht hit back.

Scott Williams’s loose pass was picked up by the alert  Carty and the fly-half darted through unchallenged.

Leigh Halfpenny then missed a penalty, but it did not take long for the champions to hit the front again.

The ability to cut through teams with ball-in-hand was the backbone of Scarlets success last season and they demonstrated that once more as Davies set-up winger Evans to run through and score.

Carty reduced the deficit again with a penalty, but Evans was immense going forward and he broke through two tackles and handed off to Rhys Patchell to dot down.

In a topsy-turvy game, Connacht hit back and took the lead with two tries – one each for the wingers.

A flowing move from right to left ended in the returning O’Halloran strolling over, before Kian Kelleher crossed from close range after Scarlets committed too many players to the middle – leaving the winger free on the right.

But Scarlets regained the lead just before half time as Evans again burst through down the left and supplied Leigh Halfpenny to secure a bonus point.

After all the drama of the first half, the second was far calmed and neither side added to the scores until Halfpenny booted over a penalty.

Both sides had lost their attacking spark, with defences well on top and both full-backs kicking for territory.

But a piece of O’Halloran magic brought Connacht within two as he juggled a loose pass twice before diving over the line.

Carty had the chance to bring the sides level with a conversion, but he pulled it badly wide with five minutes to go.

And Scarlets secured victory minutes later as Tadgh Beirne crossed following a scrum.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138