This Saturday evening’s big Welsh derby between the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues is poised to be a huge encounter for both sides in the battle to win points in the Magners League and for the Scarlets the chance to keep their European hopes alive.
And with the Scarlets ticket office flat out with sales this week, a packed, noisy crowd of around 10,000 is expected for the game. More than 7,500 tickets have already been sold and with fine spring weather on the cards for Saturday afternoon, Scarlets management is expecting a big walk-up and advising supporters to get to the ticket office early. Parc y Scarlets will host a big festival atmosphere with the Scarlets events team bringing in live music, street dancers, surf-board rides and a packed afternoon of entertainment for families in the hugely popular Delme Thomas Supporters Village.
Tickets will be on sale until late tomorrow evening (Friday) until 6.30pm and open again from 9am on Saturday morning. The stadium’s operations team today made the decision to open the East stand for sales to meet demand for tickets.
The Scarlets faithful will be in fine voice once again as they back their young Scarlets stars for a thrilling East V West battle in a crucial Magners League fixture.
And Head Coach Nigel Davies has opted for a few changes to the team that started in Toulon and this week told his players to "stand up and be counted" after a disappointing display in the South of France.
British Lions and Wales international hooker Matthew Rees does not make the fitness race for Saturday due to a minor neck injury, with Ken Owens starting for the Scarlets in the big derby.
Daniel Evans starts at full-back ahead of Rhys Priestland who is on the bench – the only change in the backs from last weekend’s team. Rhys Thomas starts at tighthead prop on Saturday with Deacon Manu on the bench. Tavis Knoyle gets the scrum-half jersey and Josh Turnbull comes in at flanker with Rob McCusker on the bench. Winger Lee Williams features in the Scarlets 22 once again and is on the bench.
Head Coach Nigel Davies said: "We lacked urgency last weekend and will be putting that right for this game, Cardiff are playing some good rugby – they are scoring tries and showing the quality they have in their squad.
"We know we are going to have to defend well, they have some big ball carriers, who get them over the advantage line and give them good go forward ball, some very useful backs and key strike players that we’ll have to manage.
"But equally important we have to deliver our own performance with the ball in hand, and I am quite clear that this group of players will stand up and be counted on Saturday. We’ve been hard on them this week because we have much more in us than we showed last weekend. We want to make up for last weekend with a performance at Parc y Scarlets that our supporters can take pride in.
"The players have been great this week, they are still full of confidence and energy. They’re really buoyant and are looking forward to Saturday’s home game and are motivated to put things right from last weekend.
"We knew that the season would come down to these last three games at home and if we can get good results in each one we are still in with a fighting chance.
"Despite the pressure that we’re under, we will not move away from what we are trying to achieve here and the way we want to play. This team is building, the younger guys have been exposed to high level rugby and this will only benefit this squad and our region as we go forward. We have to play within the make-up of the squad and a more fluid game suits our strengths a lot better.
"The weather’s helping at the moment and with the Blues playing some great rugby as well, it should be a very entertaining match."
Scarlets selection v Cardiff Blues; Magners League Saturday 17h April 2010 (kick off 1830) at Parc y Scarlets.
15 Daniel Evans, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Regan King, 12 Jonathan Davies 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Phil John, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Rhys Thomas, 4 Lou Reed, 5 Dominic Day, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Richie Pugh, 8 David Lyons (capt).
Replacements: 16 Deacon Manu, 17 Emyr Phillips, 18 Damian Welch 19 Rob McCusker, 20 Martin Roberts, 21 Rhys Priestland, 22 Lee Williams.