Preview: Scarlets v Zebre

Date published: October 31 2014

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made eight changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s claah with Zebre at Parc y Scarlets.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made eight changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s claah with Zebre at Parc y Scarlets.

John Barclay, the only positional change in the starting XV moves to number eight, will captain the side for the first time.

The experienced Scotland international has put in stellar performances in the Scarlets jersey of late and has been unlucky to have missed out on selection for the Autumn internationals.

With eight senior Scarlets on international duty and a list of ten injured players Pivac has an opportunity to see what some of the region’s next generation have to offer. One of the region’s exciting young talent who comes into the starting XV is Wales U20 full-back Steff Evans.

Evans has 25 appearances under his belt for Llanelli RFC and has scored 13 tries since making his Principality Premiership debut in 2012-13.

Gareth Owen and George Earle return from injury and take over from Scott Williams and Richard Kelly respectively.

Steven Shingler, who kicked five points in Scarlets’ 15-3 victory last weekend, takes the fly-half reins whilst Kirby Myhill and James Davies move into the starting line-up from the replacements bench with Peter Edwards returning to the front row after appearances in the British & Irish Cup.

The Scarlets replacements bench has a blend of experience and youth as Phil John, Jacobie Adriaanse and Rory Pitman are joined by a number of the region’s next generation.

19-year-old hooker Ryan Elias, made his regional debut against Saracens in the LV= Cup last November, Sion Bennett has featured in two of the region’s pre-season friendlies – against Bath in 2014-15 and London Welsh in 2013-14, outside half Josh Lewis has been solid with the boot for Llanelli RFC and Wales Under 20s captain Steffan Hughes will be looking to kick-on after making three appearances for the senior side last season.

Llanodvery scrum-half Rhodri Davies will be hoping to make his regional debut.

Meanwhile, South African number eight Andries van Schalkwyk will take the field for Zebre after recoving from an injury suffered against Ulster in Belfast in Round Two.

The back-row will make his 50th official appearance for Zebre becoming the first player to reach this goal in the franchise’s history.

On the bench, Zebre’s back-up scrum-half Marcello Violi is set to gain his first ever cap in the PRO12.

Form: Scarlets were defeated 6-17 in Munster in Round Six of the PRO12 and have not lost successive fixtures in the competition since March. The Welshmen are unbeaten in their last eleven matches at Parc y Scarlets in all tournaments since Harlequins won there in the European Cup in January. Zebre recorded a maiden European victory when beating Brive in France on Friday but have won just once in the PRO12 this season: 13-6 at home to Ulster in Round Four. Zebre’s solitary away win in the history of the PRO12 also came on a visit to Wales, beating the Blues 30-25 at the Arms Park in September 2013. Zebre have never beaten Scarlets in their four previous encounters, but did draw 16-all in Parma last season.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Steffan Evans, 14 Harry Robinson, ] 13 Michael Tagicakibau, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay (c), 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil John, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Sion Bennett, 20 Rory Pitman, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Steffan Hughes

Zebre: 15 David Odiete, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Mauro Bergamasco (c), 5 Valerio Bernab