Ospreys host Saracens in the pick of Friday’s LV= Cup Round 2 action while Northampton Saints travel to Scarlets.
Ospreys host Saracens in the pick of Friday’s LV= Cup Round 2 action while Northampton travel to Scarlets.
Scarlets vs Northampton
The Northampton Saints team that will start Friday’s LV= Cup Round 2 match at Parc y Scarlets has four changes from that which began the opening day win over Newcastle.
James Wilson’s return at full-back brings a move to the wing for Tom Collins, with Jamie Elliott having the week off.
Meanwhile up front there is a direct swap in the back row, with Ben Nutley starting and Teimana Harrison on the bench, while in the front row Ross McMillan and Tom Mercey replace Mike Haywood and Gareth Denman respectively.
On the bench hooker Matti Williams is in line for his first senior action since his injury against London Irish last April, while Alex Waller, Salesi Ma’afu, Calum Clark, Lee Dickson and Ben Foden all return to the match day squad.
Meanwhile, two of the Scarlets’ young talents will make their debuts on Friday with scrum half Kieran Hardy and second row Shaun Jones rewarded for strong performances in the British and Irish Cup in recent weeks.
The next generation players, which include last week’s debutant Steffan Evans and former Wales Under 20s captain Steffan Hughes, are supported in the starting XV by some of the region’s more experienced players.
South African second row George Earle will captain the side and props Phil John and Peter Edwards as well as flanker Rob McCusker, who returns from injury, add experience and maturity to the pack.
“We have a lot of experienced guys and international age grade players and they’ve had experience in the LV= Cup and Guinness PRO12. It’s great that they get more time in the shirt,” said Scarlets LV= Cup squad coach Ioan Cunningham.
“We’re all about winning our home games and in the hard conditions last week I thought the result was excellent and led into this week nicely for us.
“We have to win our home games, its something we take massive pride in. We have to make this place somewhere that is really difficult to come and get a result and every home game is huge for us.”
Scarlets: 15 Steff Evans, 14 Jordan Williams, 13 Steffan Hughes, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Rory Pitman 7 James Davies, 6 Rob McCusker, 5 George Earle (c), 4 Shaun Jones, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Phil Day, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Aaron Warren.
Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Howard Packman, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Joel Hodgson, 8 Jon Fisher, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Phil Dowson (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 Alex Woolford, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Ross Mcmillan, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Salesi Ma’afu, 19 Calum Clark, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Ben Foden.
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Thomas Foley (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies, Justin Williams
Ospreys vs Saracens
Aled Jenkins, Gareth Thomas, Rory Thornton and Ifereimi Boladau make their Ospreys debuts. Jordan Collier makes his first Ospreys start. Tommy Spinks and Ashley Evans will make their Ospreys debuts if they come off the bench
“This group has gone really well over the last couple of weeks in preparation for this period and are bursting to go on Friday night. There’s a good mix to this squad. There’s a decent sprinkling of experience with guys who are looking forward to getting on the field after not featuring much so far this season, and there is a lot of young talent keen to show that they’ve got what it takes to be an Osprey,” said Head Coach Steve Tandy.
“It’s an exciting selection, one that will whet the appetite of supporters, definitely. Going back to the Gnoll will also give the game an extra spice as there is so much of the Ospreys history associated with the venue despite only playing there for a couple of seasons.”
Meanwhile, Maro Itoje captains a youthful side as Saracens give full debuts to five players in their starting XV.
In the pack, recent signing Brett Sharman starts at hooker alongside England U20 Junior World Championship winner Biyi Alo and Hertford RFC player Jack Culverhouse in the front-row.
Hayden Smith returns from USA Eagle duty to partner skipper Maro Itoje at lock.
In the back row, Matt Hankin and Hayden Thompson-Stringer start on the flanks, with Nick De Jager at number eight.
Ben Spencer and Nils Mordt once again partner each other at half-back, whilst USA international Thretton Palamo starts at inside centre alongside Nick Tompkins.
George Perkins, Jack Wilson and Will Edwards make up the Saracens back three.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Aled Jenkins, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield (c), 8 Ifereimi Boladau, 7 Lloyd Evans, 6 Jordan Collier, 5 Rhodri Hughes, 4 Rory Thornton, 3 Daniel Suter, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Tommy Spinks, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Hanno Dirksen, 23 Ashley Evans.
Saracens: 15 Will Edwards, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 George Perkins, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Nick De Jager, 7 Matt Hankin, 6 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 5 Maro Itoje (c), 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Jack Culverhouse.
Replacements: 16 Josh Taylor, 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Sebastien Ferreira, 19 Kennet O’Neil, 20 Ben Featherstone, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Max Wilkins, 23 Matt Gallagher.
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Rob Price (Wales), Jon Mason (Wales)
Harlequins vs Dragons
Harlequins’ matchday 23 are all English qualified and 18 of the squad have progressed through, or are current members of the Harlequins Academy.
Charlie Matthews, Kyle Sinckler and Jack Clifford, who returns from injury, are among three changes to last week’s forwards, in a pack where seven are aged 23 or younger.
In the backs, Tim Swiel makes his starting debut for the club as Matt Hopper is named at outside centre.
Tom Casson is named among the replacements.
Meanwhile, South African tighthead Brok Harris has been given the nod by Lyn Jones to make his debut for the Newport Gwent Dragons
Geraint Rhys Jones will start at full-back for the Dragons and will be joined in the back three alongside teenager Ashton Hewitt and Aled Brew. The centre paring takes on the form of Matthew Pewtner and Ross Wardle who has returned from a long term knee injury. Dorian Jones gets the nod to start as fly-half whilst 22-year-old Jonathan Evans takes on