The playoff race really starts to hot up this weekend as Scarlets host Munster on Saturday. In 5th and 6th place currently, with just the one point separating them, both sides will be desperate for a win to hopefully propel them back into the top four.
The Scarlets beat Munster earlier this season, for the first time since 2007 and will be eager to get their first ever win over the Irish province at home since their move to Parc Y Scarlets. Munster will be eager to avenge their earlier defeat and they’ve a good mix of youth and experience throughout their side.
The Welsh region have Turnbull and Liam Williams back in their squad relieved of Wales duty. Their backline again contains the very young half back pairing of Aled Davies and Owen Williams, who have been so impressive in their last two outings. Fenby and Maule provide the experience in the backs and with exciting runners in Warren and Owen to look to, if the Scarlets can work the possession and field position, they can be very dangerous in attack.
Munster have the services of the hugely experienced O’Gara to call upon and with Hanrahan, Keatley and Murphy in their backline they have dangerous runners of their own. If O’Gara can bring the backline into play they could pose the Scarlets real problems.
In the forwards the Scarlets have a strong pack lining up. The second row pairing of Earle and Snyman are two work horses that should give the home side the hard graft needed to secure possession. With Turnbull and McCusker in their backrow with the hard working Murphy they have the players to make inroads behind a dependable front row.
Munster are boosted by the presence of O’Callaghan and are fielding an experienced and effective front five in their forwards. Their back row is efficient and has the capability of winning Munster the possession they will need to press on for a win.
The Scarlets have perhaps the edge in the benches and in what is likely to be a very close match this could have a large bearing on the outcome.
Both teams have played exciting rugby this season, yet both have also grinded out gritty wins. In two evenly matched teams as ever it will come down to whichever side can keep their composure and execute their chances that will emerge the victors.
With a relatively easy run in on the cards, the Scarlets after a great team building couple of days in Bluestone Wales will be focused on giving their all for the win to keep their playoff chances alive, and a big boost going forward. For Munster, if they manage to get an away win over one of their closest rivals it will provide them with the perfect momentum and confidence to take into their remaining games.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
Scarlets: Gareth Owen; Liam Williams, Gareth Maule, Adam Warren, Andy Fenby; Owen Williams, Aled Davies; Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Jacobie Adriaanse, George Earle, Johan Synman, Rob McCusker (capt), Josh Turnbull, Kieran Murphy.
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhodri Jones, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Johnathan Edwards, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Nick Reynolds.
Munster: I Keatley; D Hurley, I Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, J Murphy; R O’Gara, D Williams; W du Preez, M Sherry capt, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, I Nagle; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell, P Butler.
Replacements: D Varley, J Ryan, S Archer, B Holland, S Dougall, C Sheridan, D Barnes, C Laulala.