Benetton Treviso v Scarlets match preview
With a team still slightly reeling after last week’s home defeat to the Ospreys, the Scarlets would not have wished their next away game to be against Italians Treviso, who are renowned for having a fearsome pack. Having struggled somewhat upfront last week, this will be a stern test for Scarlets coach Easterby’s side to see if they have learnt from their mistakes.
Treviso boast an all Italian line up, and will be determined to secure another win at home. After turning over the Ospreys and suffering an agonizing last minute drop goal defeat to Leinster last time they performed on home soil, a win for them is a must.
Their forwards are a match for anyone in the league, and there is tenacity to this side that makes them very difficult to finish off as the Blues saw first-hand last week. Treviso will be looking to punish the Scarlets up front, targeting the front row in particular, where injuries and delays in newly signed players appearing still leave the west Wales region relatively weak.
A backrow that contains Zanni is always going to be a danger and the likes of McCusker and Turnbull will have to put in big performances to handle him. The Scarlets have opted for a recognised seven this time out in Edwards, and they will hope he is able to give them some sort of platform at the breakdown, something the Osprey Tipuric prevented them having last week. Treviso will no doubt have picked up on that, so expect the breakdown to be a fiercer competition than usual, with the Italian’s refusing to give an inch.
A shake up in the Scarlets’ backline sees George North rested, and Liam Williams moved to the wing to make way for full back Jordan Williams, who won the Man of the Match accolade in his first Scarlets start against Connacht. It will be interesting to see who the Scarlets choose to take on kicking duties; will Easterby stick with Priestland, or will the opportunity be gifted to Jordan Williams to prove that he can kick just as well for the Scarlets as he so regularly does for Llanelli RFC? With this match likely to be a close fought affair, slotting over the shots at goal is again going to be vital.
Treviso’s backline is not often talked about, but that is not to say they don’t have their own danger men in Benvenuti and McLean. Give them enough room and they have the ability to punish any side.
The Scarlets will be mindful that they will have to deliver yet another committed defensive display if they’ve any hope of winning for the first time out in Treviso. The Italians will be even more determined to keep their clean sheet at home against their visitors, and they have the pack to do so.
This is set to be a battle of the forwards, and if Treviso can perform to their potential, it will be an almighty task for the Scarlets to get enough clean ball to get the win that would keep them top of the table.
Kick Off: 7.05pm (local time, 6.05pm UK time)
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)
Treviso: 15 Luke McLean 14 Tommaso Benvenuti 13 Alberto Sgarbi
12 Luca Morisi 11 Tommaso Iannone 10 Kristopher Burton 9 Tobias Botes 8 Robert Barbieri
7 Alessandro Zanni 6 Simone Favaro 5 Valerio Bernabò 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain) 3 Lorenzo Cittadini 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini 1 Michele Rizzo
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet 18 Pedro Di Santo 19 Francesco Minto 20 Dean Budd 21 Paul Derbyshire 22 Fabio Semenzato 23 Alberto Di Bernardo
Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Jon Davies, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Phil John, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Sione Timani, 5 George Earle, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Rob McCusker (capt).
Replacements: Ken Owens, Peter Edwards, Samson Lee, Aaron Shingler, Kieran Murphy, Tavis Knoyle, Adam Warren, Kristian Phillips.