Preview: Scarlets v Dragons

Date published: October 3 2014

Scarlets welcome the return of scrum-half Gareth Davies, the region’s top try scorer so far, for the first Welsh derby at Parc y Scarlets.

Scarlets welcome the return of scrum-half Gareth Davies, the region’s top try scorer so far this season, for the first Welsh derby clash at Parc y Scarlets this Sunday.

In the West v East clash, Scarlets take on Newport Gwent Dragons in the fifth round of the Guinness PRO12.

Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac has named a strong side for the derby clash as his side look to maintain their home winning record having not lost in the PRO12 at Parc y Scarlets in 2014.

Winger Kristian Phillips makes a return on the wing to partner Harry Robinson and Liam Williams in the back three with Michael Tagicakibau failing a late fitness test to make the matchday 23.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies has been given the all-clear to return to the field of play after he was ruled out last weekend with concussion.

Number eight Rory Pitman makes a return to the starting XV in the only change to the pack from last weekend’s clash against Edinburgh.

“We’re all looking forward to the derby. Everybody talks about the derbies – it’ll be my first one and being at home that’s fortunate,” said Pivac.

“I’m expecting a very physical encounter from Dragons, they’ve emptied the tanks and taken a lot of energy into their games so far so we know they’ll be very physical.”

Meanwhile, lock Ian Gough and hooker T. Rhys Thomas return to the Dragons starting XV.

Director of Rugby, Lyn Jones has made just two changes to the winning team that faced Benetton Treviso last weekend.

Skipper Lee Byrne retains his place at full-back alongside international wingers Tom Prydie and Hallam Amos.

The centre pairing of Ben John and Ashley Smith also remains in place after an impressive performance last weekend. Fly-half Jason Tovey also gets the nod along with scrum-half Jonathan Evans.

The front row has one change to it as T. Rhys Thomas is named as hooker alongside props Boris Stankovich and Dan Way.

There is also one change to the second row as Ian Gough steps in to take his place alongside Rynard Landman.

The back-row remains the same as last weekend as Andy Powell, Nic Cudd and Taulupe Faletau all keep their places in the starting XV.

Jones has made two changes to the replacements bench as Elliot Dee and Richie Rees join Hugh Gustafson, Lloyd Fairbrother, James Thomas, Lewis Evans, Angus O’Brien and Aled Brew.

Form: Scarlets have already recorded two drawn games this season, at home to Ulster in round 1 and against Edinburgh last Friday. Scarlets are unbeaten at Parc y Scarlets in the PRO12 in 2014, with their most recent reversal at the venue in the competition coming at the hands of Ospreys on Boxing Day 2013. Newport Gwent Dragons recorded their first Guinness PRO12 victory of the season at home to Treviso on Sunday. Dragons have not won on the road in the competition since a trip to Scotstoun to face Glasgow in November 2013, whilst their most recent victory against a fellow Welsh region on their own soil was against Ospreys at Liberty Stadium, in October 2010.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rory Pitman, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 George Earle, 20 James Davies, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Adam Warren

Dragons: 15 Lee Byrne (c), 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Ben John, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Andy Powell, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Dan Way, 2 T.Rhys Thomas, 1 Boris Stankovich
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Hugh Gustafson, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 James Thomas, 20 Lewis Evans, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Aled Brew.

Date: Saturday, October 4
Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 63rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies, Jon Mason (both WRU)
TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)