Preview: Scarlets v Munster

Date published: October 22 2015

Four returning Welsh internationals have been named in the Scarlets matchday 23 for Friday top of the table clash against Munster at Parc y Scarlets.

The Scarlets take on league leaders Munster in the fifth round of the PRO12 with both sides looking to maintain their unbeaten run so far in the competition.

Returning internationals Ken Owens, Samson Lee and Jake Ball are named in the starting XV with Gareth Davies named on the replacements bench as he links up with fellow Rugby World Cup try-scoring machine DTH van der Merwe at the Parc for the first time.

Lewis Rawlins returns to the back row with Aaron Shingler unavailable due to concussion. Rhodri Williams makes a return to the starting scrum half berth in the only change to the backline.

Scarlets have not been defeated since Edinburgh visited Parc y Scarlets in March, with their eight successive victories to date continuing their best ever winning run in the competition.

Head coach Wayne Pivac said: "If we look back at our game against them here last season we played really well for 74 minutes but ended up drawing that game. We'd like to go one better but it's going to be a big ask. They're playing really well at the moment and we're yet to put together an 80-minute performance.

"They've played well in recent weeks. They'll bring an attacking ability and they'll ask a lot of questions of our defence. They're a dangerous side and have been scoring some good tries. They deserve to be where they are.

"This is definitely our biggest test yet. Munster are in form and the fact we've managed to get through unbeaten makes for a juicy occasion. They're a strong side, they have a pedigree and a history.”

Meanwhile, Munster Head Coach Anthony Foley made eight changes to the starting XV that defeated Glasgow Warriors for Friday's Round 5 clash against Scarlets in the PRO12.  

Jordan Coghlan will make his first competitive start for Munster while Ronan O'Mahony is included in a matchday squad for the first time this season.

The only change in the front row comes at hooker with Duncan Casey joining Dave Kilcoyne and BJ Botha, while in the second row Mark Chisholm moves to 5 with Robin Copeland making his first second row start for the province.

Following a try scoring performance last weekend, Coghlan joins Dave O'Callaghan and number eight CJ Stander completing the back row. Stander will once again captain the side for this weekend's game.

A further five changes are seen across the backs. Cathal Sheridan and Tyler Bleyendaal come in at half-back while Denis Hurley makes his first start of the season in forming a new centre partnership alongside the academy's David Johnston.

The final change comes in the back three with academy winger Stephen Fitzgerald starting on the right wing with Gerhard van den Heever and Andrew Conway remaining on the left wing and full-back respectively.

Having successfully completed his rehabilitation, Ronan O'Mahony is in line to make his first appearance of the season after being named amongst the replacements.

Form: Each side has begun their 2015/16 PRO12 campaign with perfect 100 per cent winning records – the best start Scarlets have made to any season in the tournament, whilst Munster also began with four wins in both 2010/11 and 2011/12. Scarlets have not been defeated since Edinburgh visited Parc y Scarlets in March, with their eight successive victories to date continuing their best ever winning run in the competition. Munster's solitary defeat in their last eleven PRO12 matches came in last season's final to Glasgow Warriors, whilst their only loss in their last ten fixtures against Welsh regions came on a trip to Ospreys last March. Scarlets have won just one of their last four clashes with Munster: 18-13 in March 2014. Munster have not been victorious at Parc y Scarlets since a 17-14 win in the European Cup in December 2011.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Regan King, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 John Barclay (c), 7 James Davies, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 5 Tom Price, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Phil John, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 George Earle, 20 Jack Condy, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Tom Williams

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Stephen Fitzgerald, 13 David Johnston, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 CJ Stander (c), 7 Jordan Coghlan, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Robin Copeland, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne. 
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Shane Buckley, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ronan O'Mahony.

Date: Friday, October 23
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:05 local (18:05 GMT)
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees, Martyn Lewis (both Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)