Preview: Scarlets v Treviso

Date published: March 3 2016

Scarlets have named a strong starting lineup to take on Benetton Treviso at Parc y Scarlets on Friday.

The side has been boosted by the return of international players Jake Ball, Aled Davies and Aled Thomas as well as DTH van der Merwe who missed out on last weekend's Scottish encounter.

Openside flankers James Davies and John Barclay are reunited in the backrow with Barclay at number 8 and Maselino Paulino in on the blindside.

Currently in third place in the PRO12 table Scarlets will be looking for a victory on Friday night to cement their place in the top four ahead of the last five games of the regular season.

Speaking ahead of Friday's clash against Treviso head coach Wayne Pivac said: "When we went in to this block we had a set number of wins we were after and we're on target. A win on the weekend would allow this group to look back and say they've been in the top four for the majority of the season, they've done a great job for us.

"We're a big 80 minutes away from a reasonable position in the table with the last five games ahead of us.

"Treviso have improved a lot in recent weeks and have done so without their internationals. They have suffered a lot of close losses; we know that from our game out there where we got out of jail.

"We certainly won't be taking them lightly at all, they'll be buoyant and they're playing for a spot in Europe as we are."

Meanwhile, there is only one change from Sunday's game against Munster for Treviso in the XV chosen by coach Marius Goosen.

The full-back will be Jayden Hayward while on the wings are Angelo Esposito and Tommaso Iannone, who takes the place of Ludovico Nitoglia. The pair of centres will be Luca Morisi and captain Alberto Sgarbi.

For the fifth straight game, the half-back pairing will be Sam Christie at fly-half and Alberto Lucchese at scrum-half.

The forwards are confirmed as follows: the two props will be Alberto De Marchi and Simone Ferrari with the hooker Luca Bigi. The locks are Filo Paulo and Tom Palmer. The back row sees Marco Barbini, Marco Lazzaroni, and Robert Barbieri completing the XV.

Form: Scarlets last three matches in the PRO12 have all been decided by a solitary point whilst seven of their last eight contests have had a winning margin of just two points. Scarlets only home defeat in the competition since round 18 last season was 26-27 to Ospreys on Boxing Day. Treviso play their first away game in the PRO12 since 8 January, but have not won on the road since their relatively short trip to Zebre at Christmas 2014. The Italians have won their last two games against Welsh regions but have never before won three in a row in the PRO12 against Welsh opponents. Scarlets have won their last five fixtures with Treviso since the Italian's 41-17 victory at Parc y Scarlets in May 2013 – their only victory in Wales in the last four seasons.

The teams: 

Scarlets: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Regan King, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Maselino Paulino, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Dylan Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Tom Price, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Connor Lloyd, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Gareth Owen

Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (c), 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Alberto Lucchese, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Marco Lazzaroni, 6 Marco Barbini, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Alberto De Marchi
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Cherif Traorè, 18 Filippo Filippetto, 19 Jeff Montauriol, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Abraham Steyn, 22 Chris Smylie, 23 Simone Ragusi

Date: Friday, March 4
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Wayne Davies (both WRU)
TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)