Planet Rugby

Preview: Scarlets v Ospreys

01st October 2010 12:52

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SKY_MOBILE Mike Phillips Ospreys

Mike Phillips: At scrum-half for Ospreys

The Scarlets are without the services of centre Jon Davies for their Magners League clash against local rivals Ospreys on Saturday.

With both sides looking to build momentum and with Europe's opening games on the horizon in a week's time, this traditionally high octane fixture has all the ingredients for a classic encounter that is as much about pride as points.

Davies (ankle sprain) and hooker Ken Owens (arm) have both been ruled out. Opportunities are handed to the skilful and talented centre Gareth Maule and the star of last year's Heineken Cup victory over London Irish, full-back Daniel Evans. Both backs will be eager to impress in the Scarlets shirt at one of the top billing games of the region's home season.

With plenty of experience for the big occasion to found across the field with the likes of international class players Stephen Jones, Matthew Rees, David Lyons, Sean Lamont, Iestyn Thomas and Deacon Manu, the Scarlets will be looking build on this season's positive league form which has secured them three consecutive wins.

Head Coach Nigel Davies: "This game will be about who turns up hungrier on the day, the form leading up to it doesn't always count for much - it will probably rest on a couple of key moments, who gets them right and who takes their chances. It's going to be a tough match, it's a massive game in its own right and both teams understand that."

"It's one of the big games people want to come and watch and rightly so - the intensity it generates, the rivalry is huge and the respect is there between the two sides. These games always have an extra edge.

"Jon has been in great form and while it's disappointing that he and Ken Owens haven't quite made the fitness race, it's important we don't push them and that they recover properly for some big matches ahead of us in October.

"We have always been comfortable to push forward our talent and give players exposure to the big games. Gareth Maule, Dan Evans and Scott Williams are three Scarlets who will relish taking their opportunities in this derby and have a lot to offer.

"Gareth has been going really well in training, he's really stepped up this season and has shown his qualities when he's come on. Dan Evans has plenty of skill and experience of the big games at full-back and Scott is a powerful player, in a similar mould to Jon Davies and we've seen what he can do both in his games for the Premiership and with Wales U20's."

Meanwhile, Tom Smith, Sonny Parker and Ian Evans, among others, are all out with injury for Ospreys.

Head coach Sean Holley commented: "It should be a great game. We've been building week on week, reintegrating the players that have been on a delayed pre-season, and we are starting to get back up to strength in terms of players returning.

"It's a difficult challenge, getting everybody back into the team, getting them game time and making allowances for individual conditioning programmes, but it's something that we used to and history over the last few seasons suggests that we've got it right. It's a challenge that we want to have, it means that we are continuing to contribute players to the various national teams.

"As a squad we need to step up several notches now from where we were last weekend. The Scarlets have had a good start to the season and enjoyed a convincing win over the Dragons last week so they will no doubt be full of confidence as they welcome us to their place for such a big derby game.

"There is always a buzz about the place, an extra spice, when we play the Scarlets. Everybody knows how much it means to the supporters to get this win against our local rivals, and we want to give them that win. You've got to enjoy the rivalry, savour it and make sure you enjoy the occasion. There'll be a big crowd present including a lot of our fans who will make the short trip over the bridge hoping to get one over their closest rivals, but we have to be professional about it and realise that it is just another step towards where we want to be.

"We've enjoyed a good run in this fixture in recent seasons and we want to keep that going, but we won't lose sight of the bigger picture, and what lies ahead of us in the coming weeks."

Form: Ospreys have won their last four games against Scarlets and have a played 2, won 2 record at the new Parc y Scarlets stadium. Scarlets have won their last three games in the Magners League, but have not won four in a row in the competition since season 2006/07. Scarlets have lost their last three matches against fellow Welsh regions at Parc y Scarlets. Ospreys' four games so far have all been won by the home side on the day. Ospreys only win in their last four visits to fellow Welsh teams was 21-14 in this equivalent fixture last season.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 George North, 13, Regan King, 12 Gareth Maule, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 David Lyons, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Matthew Rees (capt), 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhys Thomas, 19 Jonny Fa'amatuainu, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Scott Williams, Rhys Priestland.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Richard Fussell, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Jamie Nutbrown, 22 James Hook, 23 Nikki Walker.

Date: Saturday, October 2
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 20:10 BST (19:10 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens

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