Preview: Scarlets v Ospreys

Date published: January 2 2015

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Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made six changes, one positional, to his XV that will face the Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Centre Scott Williams returns to captain the side with Hadleigh Parkes moving from centre to wing. Michael Tagicakibau also makes a return and will join Parkes and full-back Liam Williams, who last week committed his future to the Scarlets with a new contract, in the back three.

The 2013 Wales Junior World Championship finalist front-row of Rob Evans, Kirby Myhill and Samson Lee are reunited in regional colours with Myhill replacing the injured Emyr Phillips who is undergoing surgery on a dislocated shoulder on Friday.

Johan Snyman joins Jake Ball in the second-row with Rob McCusker joining Aaron Shingler and John Barclay in the back-row.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies, and last season’s top try scorer in the Guinness PRO12, makes a return to the bench after a long spell on the sideline after suffering a knee injury in the Welsh derby against Dragons at Parc y Scarlets back in October.

“We wanted to build a fortress at home and we’ve continued with the good form at home that Simon had handed over and we’ve remained unbeaten at home,” said Pivac.

“The boys love playing at home. A supportive home crowd is worth a good few points to us.

“It’s a big game, a big challenge for us but certainly we haven’t lost focus on the fact we need to get a win.

“All games are important but winning the games at home are a priority and getting maximum points from them.”

Meanwhile, the Ospreys have named the same forward pack that won last week’s clash between the two sides while Aisea Natoga comes in for Eli Walker on the wing.

Otherwise it is an unchanged starting XV from head coach Steve Tandy, who wants an improved performance from his side on Saturday.

“It was pretty much mixed emotions last weekend. Obviously we were pleased to win the big derby match in front of our own fans at the Liberty, and to end the year at the top of the table, but there was a huge feeling of disappointment at the performance,” he said.

“We didn’t do ourselves justice, we didn’t perform at the level we expect of an Ospreys team, and we almost paid the price for it. The dressing room was fairly downbeat after the game as there was a realisation that we didn’t reach the desired standard.

“The focus this week in training has been about getting back to basics and doing the small things correctly. We know that it’s going to be tough down there on Saturday, there’ll be a big crowd and Scarlets tails will be up given our poor performance in the second half.”

Form: Scarlets only defeat in their last 15 fixtures at Parc y Scarlets in all tournaments was to Northampton in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November, whilst their most recent reversal there in the Guinness PRO12 was to Ospreys on Boxing Day 2013. Scarlets last seven encounters with fellow Welsh Regions have all been won by the home side on the day whilst the only three home defeats Scarlets have suffered to a Welsh rival since April 2010 have all been inflicted by Ospreys. Ospreys last six matches in the Guinness PRO12 have all been won by the home side whilst they have lost their last four away games in all tournaments since they visited Zebre in Round Five of the PRO12. Ospreys have been victorious in their last 17 encounters with fellow Welsh Regions in the tournament. Ospreys have beaten Scarlets in their last five encounters since they visited Llanelli on Boxing Day 2011. Ospreys have been victorious on five of their six previous visits to Parc y Scarlets.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Regan King, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 George Earle, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Jordan Williams.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 James King, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Marc Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Tom Grabham.

Date: Saturday, 3 January
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 17.05 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales) and Marty Lewis (Wales)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)

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