The Scarlets host their second Welsh derby of the season on Friday night (kick-off 7.05pm) this time against Newport Gwent Dragons and are eager to make it nine in a row against their rivals in the East.
The Scarlets currently sit in second position in the RaboDirect PRO12 after their three wins and two losing bonus points but want to get back to their positive winning momentum after two losses which followed such a strong start to their league campaign.
Scarlets have won their last eight fixtures with the Men from Gwent in the tournament since Dragons won 15-13 at Rodney Parade on New Year’s Day 2008. Dragons’ only previous win on Scarlets soil in the competition came at Stradey Park on 1 September 2007. The Scarlets have not lost consecutive home games at Parc y Scarlets in the tournament since December 2009.
With one game before their big European opener in Clermont next weekend, the West Wales side say they look forward to a putting in big performance in front of their home supporters at another intense and physical contest between the two Welsh regions.
It will be a big night for Scarlets Forwards Coach Danny Wilson, who was formerly part of the Dragons coaching set-up, he said: “There’s plenty in this game for supporters, players and coaches alike; of course I have an understanding of how the Dragons are likely to approach this game and vice-versa they will know how I’ll be preparing the Scarlets boys.
“But it’s a derby and while there’s a lots of preparations, it often comes down to who wants it the most shows the most hunger and passion. At our last derby against the Ospreys we didn’t do have that and they brought real ferocity and deserved the result. What we saw last weekend from our pack was that they were far more physical and hungry in the breakdown and in attack and defense and our scrum was much improved.
“We will need a big chunk of attitude on Friday night, we’ve been working hard this week on our game and know we have to really turn up and perform as there will be some real threats across the field from the Dragons who will be confident after their win against Edinburgh.
“It’s a home game and our passionate and loyal support deserve us to deliver this time – the players were hurting after the Ospreys so I know they’ll want to make amends on Friday night.”
And it’s a big night for new faces and a warm welcome back for some popular Scarlets. New South African second row signing Joe Snyman gets his first start for the Scarlets region alongside Sione Timani.
With a reputation as a line-out specialist with powerful ball carrying skills and a high work-rate, Snyman is an imposing player to add power and stature to the Scarlets pack, Snyman stands at 6ft 7” and weighs in at 18st 12 and has had experience with Natal Sharks, Golden Lions (part of winning 2011 Currie Cup team) and Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand. He has international experience at youth level and was part of the U19 winning South African team in the IRB Junior World Championships.
Scarlets supporters and rugby fans in Wales will be pleased to see the long-awaited return of back three international Morgan Stoddart who returns to the bench after 13 months out following a severe leg break at Twickenham in the run-up to the World Cup last year.
International centre Jonathan Davies is given some time off the field ahead of Europe after significant game-time for his region in the opening weeks; and back into the centre comes his Wales colleague Scott Williams alongside Gareth Maule. George North returns on the wing after rest last week with Aled Thomas getting his opportunity to start at outside half, with Rhys Priestland on the bench.
Scarlets team v Newport Gwent Dragons Friday 5th October 2012, Parc y Scarlets kick-off 7.05pm: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Phil John, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Sione Timani, 5 Johan Snyman, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Josh Turnbull, 8 Rob McCusker (capt).
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Morgan Stoddart.
Second row George Earle is left out because of minor back strain picked up from last week.