Preview: Scarlets v Dragons

Date published: October 7 2016

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Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made two changes to his side for their first Welsh derby of the season, against Dragons, at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Pivac has retained the services of the majority of the side that secured a three-try victory in Italy last weekend and will be looking for a repeat performance to continue building momentum on the back of back-to-back victories over Connacht and Treviso.

Aled Davies comes in to the starting line-up instead of Gareth Davies as well as Morgan Allen coming in for John Barclay.

Scarlets and Team Great Britain's James Davies will make his 50th appearance in Scarlets colours on Saturday

Looking ahead to the game Pivac said: "I'm sure you'd agree that slowly but surely things are building, certainly after the slow start to the season. It was very important that we got two wins from Connacht and Treviso and we were able to do that. 

"Now we have a clear focus on Dragons before we move on to the European Rugby Champions Cup.

"In terms of the Dragons they're a very strong team at home. We have a lot of respect for them. There are a few players from the region playing here and they've talked about how proud they are as a group. They'll be coming here with one result in mind and that's to get a win.

"If we can get a result this weekend it'll be a good comeback from a slow start. Hopefully if we can do our part of the equation in the first of the Big Weekend we'll be that much closer to where we need to be.

"We take each game week by week, it's a big derby, we don't know how these things will pan out. Hopefully it'll be a game where both teams come with a positive attitude. We could be in for an entertaining night of rugby."

Meanwhile, Dragons head coach,Kingsley Jones has made six personnel changes and two positional switches to the team that took on Glasgow Warriors last weekend at Rodney Parade.

The position of full-back is filled by Welsh International Tom Prydie as he makes his first start for the Dragons after recovering from injury, he joins wings Pat Howard and Hallam Amos in the back three. 

The centre partnership sees the inclusion of ex-Scarlet Adam Warren who partners youngster Jack Dixon. Fly-half Nick Macleod gets the nod and is joined in the halfbacks by scrum-half Charlie Davies.

The front row has one change made to it as hooker Rhys Buckley joins props Sam Hobbs and Brok Harris. The second row sees Nick Crosswell move to lock from flanker and Cory Hill joins him. The back row sees Lewis Evans skipper move to flanker alongside Nic Cudd, with Ed Jackson returning at number eight.

Looking forward to the derby clash against Scarlets, Dragons loosehead prop Sam Hobbs commented: “It's going to be a fierce derby and you have to turn up with pride and passion and get stuck in. If you can't get up for these games then you are in the wrong job, there are a lot of personal battles and a lot of pride at stake.

"We will be going in as underdogs but have to go there with nothing to lose, force our game on them to put them under pressure and see how they react."

He continued: “One of my personal targets when coming to the Region was to put a big emphasis on winning some derbies and turning that script on its head.

“It gives the fans a bit of pride on a Monday morning when they go into work and gives the boys a bit of a lift.”

The replacements bench has five changes made to it as Darran Harris, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Ollie Griffiths and Sarel Pretorius join Thomas Davies, Angus O’Brien and Sam Beard.

Form: Scarlets were pointless after the first three rounds of the 2016/17 PRO12 campaign but have since reeled off successive victories, at home to Connacht and in Treviso. The West Walians have lost their last two home games against fellow Welsh regions since they beat the Dragons at Parc y Scarlets at the end of October 2015. The Dragons have recorded just one victory in their last nine fixtures in all competitions – 11-6 at home to Zebre in Round Two of the PRO12. The Dragons have not beaten a fellow Welsh region on their own soil since visiting Cardiff on Boxing Day 2014. Scarlets solitary defeat in their last 15 Championship encounters with Dragons was 16-23 at Rodney Parade in September 2013. Dragons' only victory on Scarlets soil since the two regions were formed in 2003 was 30-23 at the old Stradey Park in the PRO12 in September 2007.    

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Wyn Jones 
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 John Barclay, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Hughes

Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (c), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Darran Harris, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22  Angus O’Brien, 23 Sam Beard

Date: Saturday, October 8
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

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