Players and coaches from the Scarlets tell us exactly how they’re feeling ahead of Friday’s derby match against the Dragons.
The Scarlets faced Magners League new-boys Benetton Treviso in their first game of the season, with the Italian side fighting back in the second half to take an historic win at the Stadio di Monigo.
The Welsh side were back on home territory a week later as they welcomed Connacht to the Parc Y Scarlets. The Irish province put 40 points on the Dragons on the opening weekend and came close to victory in West Wales, yet the Scarlets showed great character to claim all five points in an enthralling encounter.
Victory over Connacht was followed by an impressive 49-10 win over Aironi last weekend as the Scarlets showed off their fire-power out wide with a second-successive bonus-point triumph.
The Scarlets are currently the highest ranked Welsh side in the table, sitting in third place behind Munster and Ulster with a total of 11 points to their name.
The 2005 Magners League Champions head east along the M4 this weekend hoping to continue their good fortune at Rodney Parade, a ground hated by most but where they have tasted victory on their last two visits.
We spoke to head coach Nigel Davies, former Dragon Rhys Thomas, winger Andy Fenby and fly-half Rhys Priestland ahead of the Scarlets’ first Welsh derby of the new season.
Here's what they had to say…
Head coach Nigel Davies
“The Dragons are a team with a lot to play for this weekend, like we are. They will be hurting after their last performance and it will be backs against the wall for them.
“They are always a difficult team to play at Rodney Parade and we realize that we have to match them physically as they will come at us all guns blazing.
“It is a unique place to play in terms of its atmosphere. It is very compact, the supporters are close to the pitch and they all have views on the game and express them. It can be a very intimidating place for players and coaches to go.
“In terms of where we are, we’re happy, but it won’t count for much if we can’t back it up.
“I am excited about the potential of this team and with the backline and strike players we have. We endeavor to play rugby and keep the game alive. I saw a huge improvement last week and it’s a process we are working along.
“One of our targets is to keep the opposition to below 17 points and if we can do that we will win 99% of games, but it’s a big challenge for us.
“We have to be accurate – even with our potential in the backline we must improve the type of ball we receive and then we must build ourselves into the game. We mustn’t throw the ball too wide too early and put ourselves under pressure. We have to be clear about our game plan and be accurate not to allow them to come into the game through our mistakes.
“We are clear about the Dragons, but we must focus on ourselves and improve our game.”
The Scarlets scored six tries against Aironi in Round 2
Former Dragons prop Rhys Thomas
“Last year wasn’t a great year for me, I was injured a lot, but I am back now and I am really keen again. It has been an interesting pre-season and I have been able to put a lot of fitness in and it feels good.
“I feel I owe the Scarlets, they brought me down here and the first year was a disaster and I want to repay them
“I’m really excited about the prospect of going back to Rodney Parade. I would have loved to have done it last year but was injured for the fixture so this is my first chance to hopefully get stuck in and get a win.
“I will probably get a bit of stick. I still go down to Rodney Parade to watch some close mates play and I still live in Newport but I left on good terms. The stick might be a lot worse if we win but I will take it on my shoulders.
“They have got a good pack and could have Tom Willis back at the weekend which would be a big bonus for them.”
Wing Andy Fenby
“The Dragons are a tough side to beat at home. It is a hostile crowd up there that is pretty vocal so we will expect a bit of banter but that is what you play rugby for, to go to places like that.
“The Dragons had a great season last time around, they showed they can attack and they can fling the ball out wide and score plenty of tries, so they are going to be dangerous.
“We’ve had two good performances here at Parc-Y-Scarlets, we are playing well and we need to take that confidence into the fixture. We’re scoring plenty of tries and have great attacking ability so hopefully we can build on this during the season.
“There is some added spice to the game with it being a derby but it is something we are looking forward to.”
Andy Fenby was a try scorer last time out
Fly-half Rhys Priestland
“It was great to get a result there last year, which is something not many teams are able to do. Last year’s game wasn’t a great spectacle but whenever you come away from there with anything you’re going to be pleased.
“It’s a tough place to go. They’ve got a good team with a good squad and the crowd aren’t the friendliest to us either! It’s always a challenge going to Rodney Parade but it’s one we’re looking forward to.
“We’ve won two from two at home, although we did it the hard against Connacht. If we can win most of our home games and improve our away form then I don’t see why we can’t be much higher up the table than we were last year.
“Maybe winning becomes a habit so we’ve got to try and get a victory and that would increase the confidence again within the squad.”