Preview: PRO12, Friday

Date published: March 23 2017

Two games take place in the PRO12 on Friday as the Scarlets host Edinburgh while the Dragons face Ulster at Rodney Parade.

Scarlets v Edinburgh

Following the conclusion of the Six Nations, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has named seven of the returning players in his matchday 23.

Samson Lee, Steff Evans, Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams have all been named in the starting XV with Rob Evans, John Barclay and Gareth Davies named on the replacements bench.

Scarlets will also welcome the return of fly-half Rhys Patchell who has made a full recovery from ankle surgery and is named in the starting line-up making his first appearance since New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh welcome back nine internationals from Scotland’s Six Nations squad for their PRO12 clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Acting head coach Duncan Hodge has named an all-international front-row with Scotland’s most-capped forward, Ross Ford, captaining the side from hooker.

He will pack down alongside Allan Dell and Simon Berghan, the latter winning his first national team cap against France in Paris.

Ben Toolis remains at lock, while back-row Cornell Du Preez returns to the black and red after making his international debut against England in the penultimate round of the recent Six Nations campaign.

In the backs, 27-times capped Duncan Weir starts in the number ten shirt, while fellow international Damien Hoyland is named on the wing.

Hooker Stuart McInally and lock Grant Gilchrist are named on the bench following their spell in the Scotland camp.

Form: Scarlets defeat to Leinster in Dublin in round 17 of the Guinness PRO12 ended a five game winning run in the competition. The Welshmen have won their last seven home games in the PRO12 since they were defeated by Munster at Parc y Scarlets in round 1. Edinburgh have slipped to five straight defeats in the Guinness PRO12 since beating Zebre in Parma on new year’s eve. The Scotsmen have not been victorious in Wales since a visit to Newport Gwent Dragons on 27 March 2016. Edinburgh have lost just one of their last five encounters with Scarlets, and that by just a single point, in this equivalent fixture at Llanelli in February last year. Edinburgh have won just once in their last six visits to Parc y Scarlets: 26-15 in March 2015.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Tom Price, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 John Barclay, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 DTH van der Merwe

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Viliame Mata, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford (c), 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Murray McCallum, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Glenn Bryce

Date: Friday, March 24
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Wayne Davies
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

Dragons v Ulster

Luke Marshall is set to win his 100th Ulster cap as he starts at centre for the province in their PRO12 trip to face the Dragons on Friday.

Marshall will form an experienced midfield partnership alongside Darren Cave, with the pair racking up 291 caps for the side between them.

Ireland duo Iain Henderson and Jared Payne return to the XV at blindside and full-back respectively, while Paddy Jackson is on the bench.

Charles Piutau and Craig Gilroy will occupy the wing berths, forming an exciting back three with Payne for the second game in succession.

Meanwhile, Dragons captain Lewis Evans is set to make his 200th appearance for the region.

Carl Meyer returns at full-back with Tom Prydie moving to wing. The two are joined by the returning Adam Hughes to make up the back three.

The centre partnership remains unchanged with Sam Beard named alongside Tyler Morgan.

Angus O’Brien remains at fly-half and is joined by Charlie Davies who makes his return to the starting XV.

In the front-row there is one change as hooker Rhys Buckley returns to the starting XV. Prop forwards Sam Hobbs and Brok Harris remain unchanged.

There is a change in the second-row as Nick Crosswell returns to take a place alongside Rynard Landman.

The back-row remains unchanged as Ollie Griffiths and Nic Cudd line up alongside captain Evans.

Form: Dragons have lost their last four matches in the Guinness PRO12 since beating Treviso 26-8 at Rodney Parade on 6 January. Dragons only victory over an Irish Province in the last 14 months was 21-16 at home to Connacht in round 8 this season. Ulster have won their last five matches in the Guinness PRO12 since they were beaten by Scarlets in Llanelli in round 13. That reversal to Scarlets ended a five game winning run against Welsh regions in the tournament. Ulster’s only defeat in their last six fixtures against Dragons was 22-26 at Rodney Parade in March 2015. Ulster won on their most recent visit to Newport but have not won successive matches at Rodney Parade since 2005/06.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Lewis Evans (c), 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Darran Harris, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Sarel Pretorious, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Adam Warren

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Stuart Olding, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Alan O’Connor, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Andrew Warwick
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Jacob Stockdale

Date: Friday, March 24
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Dan Jones (Wales)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)