Planet Rugby

Preview: Scarlets v Dragons

01st May 2014 11:42


Rob McCusker in action for Scarlets

Returns: Rob McCusker

Scarlets coach Simon Easterby has made three tweaks and a positional switch to his XV that faced the Blues for Friday's clash with the Dragons.

Club captain Rob McCusker has returned to the number eight berth after a period on the sideline through injury while Josh Turnbull moves from eight to flank with Steven Shingler and Olly Barkley included in the starting backline on home soil.

The Scarlets have the opportunity to secure a place in the top tier of European rugby next season, needing just two points from the derby.

"Dragons have played big sides in recent weeks and have put in some big performances despite not coming away with the results. We were all disappointed with the result when we lost away from home and we most certainly won't be taking them lightly," said forwards coach Danny Wilson.

"The preparation this week has been much of the same as it is any other week but we're all clear and focused on knowing that we need to start the game and be mentally in a better place than we were last game.

"We don't want to lose two derbies on the bounce, there's a lot of pride in the group and our intentions is to put things right from last week. We'll be looking to bounce back with a good start and a good performance."

Meanwhile, Welsh international Hallam Amos will start at full-back for the Dragons and is joined in the back-three by fellow Welsh internationals, wings Tom Prydie and Will Harries.

Pat Leach makes his return to the centre pairing, alongside Jack Dixon, after recovering from a virus that kept him from playing in the Judgement Day clash. Boss Lyn Jones has then named fly-half Kris Burton and scrum-half Richie Rees in the team as they retain their positions from the last game played against the Ospreys at the Millennium Stadium.

Jones and his coaching staff have made just one change to the front-row as prop Phil Price and hooker T. Rhys Thomas retain their places, whilst Duncan Bell is moved to the bench and Bruce Douglas takes his place as tighthead prop.

Dragons skipper and Welsh international Andrew Coombs returns to the second-row, alongside youngster Matthew Screech, to captain the team.

There has been a total of three changes to the bench as Duncan Bell, Darren Waters and Tyler Morgan join Sam Parry, Owen Evans, Jevon Groves, Jonathan Evans and Jason Tovey.

Form: Scarlets require two points from this game to secure a sixth place finish in the table and qualification for Europe. Scarlets have won their last five fixtures at Parc y Scarlets in all tournaments and have not lost there in the RaboDirect PRO12 in 2014. Scarlets have lost all four games they have played against fellow Welsh regions in the tournament so far this season. Dragons have picked up only three league points from their last six PRO12 matches and have not won away from home in the competition since a trip to Glasgow in round 8. Dragons only victory at the home of a fellow Welsh Region in any tournament since 2007 came against Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in October 2010. Dragons were victorious 23-16 when the two sides met at Rodney Parade in round 3 and have only once before achieved a season's double over their neighbours from the West; in 2007/08.

The teams:

Scarlets:15 Steven Shingler, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Jonathan Davies (capt), 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 George Earle, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Johan Snyman, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Gareth Maule, 23 Frazier Climo.

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Will Harries, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Bruce Douglas, 2 T. Rhys Thomas, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Duncan Bell, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Darren Waters, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Tyler Morgan.

Date: Friday, May 2
Kick-off: 19:05 BST
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Kelvin Shorte (Wales)

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