The Scarlets travel to Murrayfield on Friday evening to face a full-strength Edinburgh team in another crucial game for the West Wales side as the finale for play-off places approaches.
The Scarlets will be looking to extend their three bonus point wins in a row in the RaboDirect PRO12 league and fasten their grip on the running for a top four place in their last quartet of fixtures before the play-offs.
The Scarlets will face Edinburgh and Aironi away, followed by two huge Parc y Scarlets games for heart and soul rugby country to enjoy welcoming Munster (21st April) and Cardiff Blues (5th May) in the final chapter of a fierce and tightly fought Celtic league competition this season.
With the Scarlets sitting in 6th on 50 points, Ulster on 50 points in 5th and Glasgow in 4th on 51 points – there are just three points separate third to sixth placed teams.
With every game until the end of the season is now a “must win” scenario for almost half of the teams in the RaboDirect PRO12, it will be nail-biting final run.
Edinburgh have lost their last seven RaboDirect PRO12 matches equaling their longest ever losing run in the tournament. Edinburgh’s only home victory so far in 2012 came against London Irish in the Heineken Cup on 22 January. The Scotsmen have lost all six PRO12 games against the Welsh regions this season.
Scarlets have won their last three PRO12 encounters since losing at Leinster on 17 February. Scarlets have won their last three clashes with Edinburgh, including a first ever victory at Murrayfield in this equivalent fixture last January when the West Wales visitors won 21-16.
Scarlets team against Edinburgh at Murrayfield, Friday March 30th 2012 kick off 7.35pm:
15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Jon Davies, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rhodri Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (capt), 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Sione Timani, 5 Dominic Day, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Kieran Murphy.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Phil John, Peter Edwards, Damian Welch, Mat Gilbert, Liam Davies, Stephen Jones, Sean Lamont.
Scarlets Head of Rugby, Nigel Davies said his team were all too aware of the danger and strike power of a full-strength Edinburgh side: “This is another very big game for us and will be very intense. We know Edinburgh and their returning Scottish internationals will be desperate to win after their recent run of form. We’ll be coming up against a very focused side on their home turf and know the threat they pose – you don’t get to a quarter-final in the Heineken Cup without knowing how to win matches.
“Our boys are in a very positive frame of mind and the return of the Grand Slam players has added to the energy in the group and it’s been high impact in the camp during training this week. We know we have added fire power and options with the return of our international boys – and as coaches, we’re really excited about the potential and ambition of this whole group of players.
“It’s a big occasion again but the fact that we have everything to play for and that Edinburgh will be full on will help us in terms of getting it right. We’re excited about the chance that confronts us in the league and that we’re still in contention – and we’re determined not to let any opportunities get away from us.”
Davies said that the momentum of three wins on the bounce in the league was important in the final stages of the season however the hard work was yet to come.
“We were pleased with the result and bonus point last week and the boys showed a lot of spirit, endeavour and commitment,” said the Scarlets’ Head Coach.
“There were some errors in our game against the Blues, but we also know we have a lot of capability on the field. Without the ball we’ve stepped up a gear and showed how far we’ve come this season but we also need to be more clinical with the ball.
“Momentum is very important as are belief and confidence and we know we have some very big games ahead of us, including the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final in Brive on the horizon. But the boys are in a good place and we are in touching distance now of achieving what we set out to do this season.”
Not available through injury are: Lou Reed, second row (knee), Ben Morgan, no 8 (hamstring), Aaron Shingler, back row (toe), Iestyn Thomas (neck).