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Friday Night Preview

Friday Night Preview


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Llanelli Gareth Jenkins has praised his opposite number this week, and Swansea’s John Connelly has been praising the talent within Welsh rugby. All indicators in the build-up to this game suggest a match up of two sides with something to prove.

Llanelli and Swansea do battle at Stradey Park in what must be their biggest game of the season so far. The loser of this one can kiss Celtic league quarter final qualification goodbye.

Llanelli are still without Scott Quinnell who is recovering from a nose operation. Robyn McBryde is out with an injured foot. Irish international flanker Simon Easterby is suffering from concussion and is unavailable.

Swansea will be led out by Scott Gibbs and the in-form Arwel Thomas starts at no. 10. Wales full-back Kevin Morgan will be out for up to two months with damaged knee ligaments.

Swansea have had the better of recent battles, trumping the Scarlets on the previous four occasions.

Swansea narrowly defeated Caerphilly last weekend, and know that they will have to step up a level to defeat the Scarlets at Stradey Park. Llanelli are desperate for a win to prove thy still are still a force to be reckoned with.

Llanelli: G Evans; M Jones, M Watkins, L Davies (capt), S Finau; S Jones, D Peel; I Thomas, M Thomas, J Davies, L Gross, C Wyatt, D Jones, D Hodges, I Boobyer. Replacements: M Madden, A N Other, V Cooper, A N Other, G Easterby, G Bowen, M Cardey.,

Swansea: S Payne; M Robinson, S Winn, S Gibbs (capt), G Henson; A Thomas, S Cordingley; D Dorsey, C Balshen, B Evans, A Farley, J Slade, C Charvis, J Thomas, D Thomas. Replacements: D Colclough, S Pope, J Griffiths, R Jenkins, T Tamarua, R Jones, M Taylor.

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).

Out – Llanelli: N Boobyer (foot fracture), S Quinnell (nose), D Williams (knee), R McBryde (ankle), S Easterby (head).

Swansea: K Morgan (knee), C Wells (knee), H Bennett (shoulder).

Previous meetings: One in Celtic League**, but 362 in all with Llanelli leading 165-156 on wins, 40 drawn and one abandoned.

Last season: Llanelli 21 Swansea 27**; Swansea 35 Llanelli 9.

Form guide: Swansea won the last four meetings in the now-defunct Welsh/Scottish League, including the last two seasons at Stradey Park.


Newport need a change of luck, and fast. Last week’s narrow defeat to Cardiff led coach Leigh Jones to make sweeping changes to the starting line-up.

Returning to the side after injury breaks are outside half Jason Strange and props Ceri Jones and Adrian Garvey. The return of Strange to the No 10 jersey means Shane Howarth reverts to full back.

Leinster are in real danger of losing their Celtic League crown. Last year’s champions are in sixth place in the pool with just one win from five games. Form has been inconsistent, and coach Matt Williams will be hoping for a confidence boosting victory in front of the fanatical home crowd at Donnybrook

This week the Lions welcome back their Irish international players, captain Reggie Corrigan, Brian O’Driscoll, Denis Hickie and Malcolm O’Kelly all included in the starting line up.

Leinster: G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O’Driscoll, S Horgan, G d’Arcy; C Warner, B O’Meara; R Corrigan (capt), S Byrne, P Wallace, L Cullen, M O’Kelly, E Miller, V Costello, K Gleeson. Replacements: E Byrne, P Smith, A Kearney, D Dillon, B O’Riordan, D Quinlan/A Magro, M Leek/K Lewis.

Newport: S Howarth; A Cadwallader, M Mostyn, S Wiliams, L Nabaro; J Strange, O Tonu’u; C Jones, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, J Powell, A Powell, J Forster. Replacements: C Anthony, P Young, S Ojomoh, G Gravell, A Wagstaff, M Hook, L Lane.
Referee: I Ramage (Scotland).

Out – Leinster: N Spooner, P McKenna, B Wills.

Newport: J Jones-Hughes (knee), J Pritchard (broken foot bone), B Breeze
(knee), I Gough (back), H Luscombe (achilles tendon), A Popham (knee).

Previous Celtic League meetings: Leinster 34 Newport 24 (Q-final) 30/11/01.

Form guide: Leinster won all their 10 matches last season and after one win this season, they have lost four in a row, while Newport have lost all five. Newport’s only away win was at Neath last season.

POOL B BORDERS V GLASGOW (kick off 7:30)

Glasgow have performed well in Celtic competition this year. Four wins from five and three bonus points mean they are in second spot in group B, and just one point away from certain qualification.

And Glasgow will be hoping to make it through to the last eight tonight if they can beat Borders.

Borders, in their first season, have struggled to make an impact in Pool B. Narrow defeats to Connacht, Cardiff, and Pontypridd have earned Borders bonus points.

But improvement has been noted every game, and it was last week the Borders broke their Celtic duck. A good win at home to Leinster gave the fans reason to believe this week’s Scottish derby should be a real firecracker.

BORDERS v GLASGOW RUGBY (at Netherdale, Gala RFC, 7.30pm).

Borders: (not available)

Glasgow: S Moffat; J Steel, A Bulloch, T Hayes, G Metcalfe; C Howarth, A Nicol (capt); D Hilton, G Bulloch, L Harrison, N Ross, A Hall, A Wilson, J Petrie, D Macfadyen. Replacements: B Daly, C Blades/E Murray, R McKay, A Brown, G Beveridge, A Henderson, M Bartlett.

Out – Borders: S Longstaff (Groin), C Murray (shoulder), G Morton (shoulder),
G Graham (calf), S Cranston (ankle).

Glasgow: C Blades (foot), G Simpson (knee cartilage), J White back), R Reid, B Irving.

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