Scarlets v Newport Gwent Dragons match preview
The nature of their last two losses will not be sitting well with the Scarlets and they will be determined to put them to bed with a win over their Welsh rivals the Dragons. A derby win at home could be just what the Scarlets need to get themselves back on track and is particularly vital in their build up to the first round of European competition.
The Dragons approach this game off the back of a good win over Edinburgh. Their team played a combative and competitive game, especially at the breakdown which allowed their improving and impressive backs to shine.
A horrible ankle injury to one of their star players, Dan Lydiate, will undoubtedly be a blow for them, but it does enable their new signing Nic Cudd to earn a start against his old region.
The Scarlets are resting centre John Davies for this one, with Rhys Priestland having to be content with a place on the bench as fly half Aled Thomas is given another opportunity to shine after having impressed in the first match of the season against Leinster.
New South African signing Johan Snyman is handed an automatic first start, lining up alongside Timani and it will be interesting to see if he is able to add the physical presence the Scarlets need in their front five.
Neither side has the strongest front row, although youngsters such as Samson Lee will be on display and it will be good to see how they develop as the match goes along.
With both sides fielding such exciting backlines it is a shame that a torrent of rain is forecast for this game. The lineups looks like they could deliver thrilling running rugby but it will be down to which side on the night that handles the predicted elements the best and take their chances, that will go on to win.
The Scarlets look to have the edge, but with Dan Evans and Tom Prydie being on such form for the Dragons, they will have to be at their best to earn a very hard earned victory against the Men of Gwent. A mention has to be made for the return of Morgan Stoddart to the Scarlets’ bench. After 15 months out of the game having suffered a horrific leg injury it’s great to see such a talented player back.
Returning and new players alike will be looking to put down a marker and finally hit top form for this one and with so much young Welsh talent on show, this should be a derby match to savour as both teams go all out to get the win and the ultimate bragging rights.
Kick -off: 7.05pm
Referee: Nigel Owens
Scarlets: Liam Williams; George North, Gareth Maule, Scott Williams, Andy Fenby; Aled Thomas, Tavis Knoyle; Phil John, Matthew Rees, Samson Lee, Sione Timani, Johan Snyman, Aaron Shingler, Rob McCusker (capt), Josh Turnbull, Rob McCusker.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Shaun Hopkins, Deacon Manu, Richard Kelly, Kieran Murphy, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Morgan Stoddart.
Dragons: Dan Evans; Adam Hughes, Pat Leach, Andy Tuilagi, Tom Prydie; Steffan Jones, Jonathan Evans; Toby Faletau, Nic Cudd, Lewis Evans (capt), Adam Jones, Ian Nimmo, Dan Way, Steve Jones, Phil Price.
Replacements : Hugh Gustafson, Aaron Coundley, Nathan Buck, Jevon Groves, Tom Brown, Liam Davies (Bedwas), Ashley Smith, Will Harries.