Connacht v Scarlets, Sportsground, Kick-off: 1515
Connacht 13-11 Scarlets
Full time Connacht will be happy with that, it wasn’t pretty but two wins from two is all that matters. A solid if somewhat naive display from Connacht and there was great atmosphere in the ground throughout even though it was a defensive game. Edinburgh in Murrayfield next week for the west coasters
80min played That’s it, O’Connor kicks it into touch from another penalty and the referee blows his whistle
79min played Penalty for holding on by a Scarlets player in the rook right in front of the Connacht fans and they celebrate it like it’s a score
78min played Connacht stay steady under a Garryowen and keep Scarlets in their own half
77min played Referee awards a free kick from the scrum for god knows what, Newton kicks it out
76min played Connacht win a scrum, good recycling from Connacht there, they need to see it out from here
76min played Connacht driving at the SCarlets back line now, five metres from the line, a score here would copper fasten the win
74min played Turnbull rips the ball from Eoin Griffin and Rhodri Williams clears the lines
73min played Rodney Ah You picks up a loose ball and breaks but is tackled well, Mark McCrea makes another clever kick and puts pressure on the player who catches it
71min played Scarlets sub: Phil John comes on for Rhys Thomas
70min played Connacht are working hard now, Ray Ofisa has put in some huge tackles for Connacht now
69min played Connacht sub: Muldoon off for T.J Anderson, Muldoon looks disappointed by that
68min played Penalty Niall O’Connor kicks the three and Connacht lead for the first time and there’s a huge roar from the crowd who are really getting into this now
67min played Turnbull cleverly picks it up in the rook and goes through the middle, referee blows for offside – he wasn’t
65min played Connacht are really awake now, short pass from Turnbull is intercepted my John Muldoon and McCrea kicks it and chases but it bounces out of touch
63min played Reynecke and Naoupu are integral for Connacht now, referee is the only one in the ground who sees a knock-on as Naoupu goes to ground
62min played Frank Murphy does well to win the turn over as Scarlets drive towards the line, Niall O’Connor gets his first touch with a massive kick
60min played Connacht sub: Brett Wilkinson and Neil O’Connor come on for Loughney and Jarvis
59min played Connacht starting to stretch their legs and there’s a bit of edge in this now, shoving in the line out, and George Naoupu breaks free with McCarthy beside him. Scarlets clear in the end but Connacht are growing into the match
55min played Conversion Jarvis adds the extra two, well worked score from Connacht
54min played Try With that said, beautiful inside pass from Henry Fa’afili is well read by Mark McCrea and he’s over for a try
53min played Connacht need to find a bit of rhythm, their starting to retain possession but with little effect
52min played Connacht sub: South African Ethienne Reynecke comes on for hooker Adrian Flavin
51min played 18 penalties so far tells the story of the match so far, scrappy with no penetration. Crowd are finding their voice though – albeit mainly at the referee
50min played Odd decision from the ref, who has been overly involved today, Swift looked the victim after being dragged out of the maul by McCusker but Scarlets win a penalty
49min played McCusker and Swift are the two trading blows and referee gives both yellows and it’s a penalty to Connacht
49min played Connacht win a line-out and Connacht drive, bit of off the ball afters but the referee is wise to it
48min played That eight point lead is a mountain to climb for Connacht as this doesn’t have the makings of a high scoring game
46min played Try confirmed and Newton fails to add the extra two, Scarlets are worth the score after a good opening five minutes in the second half
46min played Try McCusker goes over, looks good but ref gone to video ref for confirmation
45min played Knock on and another turn over for Scarlets, crowd growing frustrated with the referee. Scarlets scrum ten metres from the line
44min played Second half picks up where first half left off, scrappy contest in the centre of the pitch
43min played Scarlets sub: Dan Evans makes way for Aled Thomas
40min played We’re back underway, Jarvis’ kick is caught and run back into the centre of the pitch
Half time The defences have come out on top in that half, Connacht should have had two tries but both times conceded penalties for not rolling away. Sloppy up front but solid at the back so far from the west coasters
40min played Jarvis puts it wide and whistle blows for half time
40min played Good drive from the Connacht back row and they eventually win a penalty for offisde
38min played Penalty Jarvis immediately responds for Connacht with 40 yarder right in front of the posts
36min played Penalty Newton puts it over and the Scarlets open up their lead
35min played Scarlets on the attack now, moving the ball well across the Connacht defence and referee calls play back for an offside which Newton will kick
32min played The full backs trade Garryowens but neither can take advantage and the game’s being played in the middle of the park now
31min playedAnother promising move from Connacht, this time it breaks down as O’Halloran spills it in the tackle.
29min Connacht make a rare foray into the Scarlets’ half from an O’Halloram clearance and work the ball across well from the line-out, Henry Fa’afili is almost over the line but his pass can’t find Duffy – who had a lovely flicked pass in the build up. Better from Connacht but penalty conceded as Duffy doesn’t roll away in the ruck
25min Scarlets are trying to batter their way over the line but Connacht have stood up well so far, they’ve played most of the game in their own half though
23min Penalty to Scarlets as a Connacht player doesn’t release in the rook, Line-out to the Welsh ten yards from the Connacht line
19min Connacht try to bring another scrum down and the referee moves it ten yards, problems in the front row for Connacht at every scrum so far
17min Duffy clears the line with a booming kick well into the Scarlets’ half
16min A match of little incident so far but Scarlets’ out-half Newton has looked bright, making the breaks and involved in a lot of play
13min Connacht are nearly over in the corner following some quick hands but Scarlets are resilient and turn it over
12min Jarvis’s penalty is taken by the wind and ends up way off target
11min Connacht getting a bit more of the ball but stopped by a spear tackle on Gavin Duffy
8min Penalty Scarlets open the score with a penalty right in front of the posts from Dan Newton
7min Connacht collapse the scrum and the referee awards a penalty which they opt to run to no great success, still Scarlets on top with Connacht holding out well
3min A short Connacht line out is intercepted and Scarlets kick it long only for it to be returned once again, a tepid opening couple of minutes
1min Scarlets get us underway and it’s immediately returned for a line out in their half
0min The teams are out now and Connacht get a rousing reception from the home crowd
0min You can keep abreast of the afternoon’s English premier league action here and John O’Connor will be keep track of Liverpool’s trip to stoke here
0min It’s a bright and blustery day in the newly renovated Sportground and we’ll be under way in about ten minutes with Connacht fielding an unchanged team after last week’s win over Treviso
Connacht: Gavin Duffy; Mark McCrea, Eoin Griffin, Henry Fa’afili, Tiernan O’Halloran; Matthew Jarvis, Frank Murphy; Ronan Loughney, Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You; Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy; John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Brett Wilkinson, Stewart Maguire, TJ Anderson, Niall O’Connor, Paul O’Donohoe, Brian Tuohy
Scarlets: Daniel Evans; Lee Williams, Rhodri Gomer-Davies, Gareth Maule, Liam Williams; Dan Newton, Ruki Tipuna; Iestyn Thomas (capt), Emyr Phillips, Rhys Thomas, Aaron Shingler, Dominic Day, Rob McCusker, Josh Turnbull, Ben Morgan.
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Phil John, Simon Gardiner, Lou Reed, Johnathan Edwards, Rhodri Williams, Aled Thomas, Adam Warren.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR
It’s been a frantic number of weeks at the Sportsground as Connacht prepare for the challenges of the season ahead. Since their inclusion in the Heineken Cup, the ground has required upgrading and that has concluded with the College Road venue getting a long, overdue facelift with the completion of the new, fully covered ‘Clan Terrace’ in time for the visit of Welsh side Scarlets in this Saturday’s RaboDirect Pro 12 encounter (KO 3.15pm).
The Clan Terrace was set up in conjunction with the newly established supporters club, the Connacht Clan. The fan club was founded during the summer and every season ticket holder automatically becomes a member of the Clan which numbers around 3,000 and, continues to grow. Construction men worked around the clock in mostly atrocious conditions to complete the stand and kudos must be paid to them for completing such an arduous task in a short space of time.
Both Connacht and Scarlets defeated Italian opposition in round one, each picking up four points along the way and there’s not much between the teams in terms of wins for and against. In the previous four encounters it has been the home side, on the day, which has triumphed. But the Welsh side have not won against Irish opposition in their last seven attempts. That said, Connacht have failed to record back to back wins in their opening two games since 2005/2006.
While he may have missed out on the World Cup, Matthew Rees has been named club Captain for the season; he is, however, still out with an injury and ten of the squad are away on World Cup duty. Prop Iestyn Thomas Captains the side in his absence and will make his 199th appearance for the club, so they are not without experience and, throw in a mixture of youth and summer signings, you get a dangerous Scarlets team who are quietly confident of getting something out of Saturday’s game.
Connacht have no new injury worries ahead of their first home game of the season. However, knocks picked up against Treviso to Mike McCarthy, Ray Ofisa and Frank Murphy are a slight cause for concern but coach Eric Elwood is confident of having them fighting fit by the weekend. Brett Wilkinson makes a timely return to the squad but may be limited to a place among the replacements.
French referee Marius Mitera will make his competition debut at the Galway venue and with rain and strong winds expected, the already notoriously ‘open’ ground will be at test not just for him, but for both teams who can expect a tight affair with both packs looking to dominate each other from the off.
Verdict: Connacht to shade it by 2-4 points.
Connacht Team to face Scarlets:
1. Ronan Loughney, 2. Adrian Flavin, 3. Rodney Ah You, 4. Michael Swift, 5. Mike McCarthy, 6. John Muldoon, 7. Ray Ofisa, 8. George Naoupu, 9. Frank Murphy, 10. Matthew Jarvis, 11. Tiernan O’Halloran, 12. Henry Fa’afili, 13. Eoin Griffin, 14. Mark McCrea, 15. Gavin Duffy (C)
16. Ethienne Reynecke,17. Brett Wilkinson,18. Stewart Maguire,19. TJ Anderson, 20. Johnny O’Connor, 21. Paul O’Donohoe, 22. Niall O’Connor, 23. Brian Tuohy