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Preview: Glasgow v Scarlets

21st March 2014 11:40

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Jonathan Davies Scarlets

Skipper: Jonathan Davies

With only six games remaining in the regular RaboDirect PRO12 the Scarlets are targeting an all-important victory away from home at the Scotstoun on Saturday as they take on fifth placed Glasgow Warriors in the West Wales region's penultimate away clash.

Three victories from four huge clashes during the recent Six Nations campaign has seen the Scarlets keep a strong footing in the top half of the RaboDirect Pro12 table securing a sixth position on 36 points, only ten points adrift of the coveted top four spot.

The Scarlets matchday 23 will include a sprinkling of international stars this weekend as they make a welcome return to the region from international duty with British & Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies leading the side in Rob McCusker's absence, who's ruled out through injury, and will partner former England international Olly Barkley in the centre for the second time.

Scarlets have won two of the last three visits to Glasgow and will be keen to put right last weekend's disappointing 26-13 defeat to Ulster.

Wales' Man of the Match against Scotland Liam Williams returns at fullback with Welsh front row duo Ken Owens and Samson Lee packing down in the scrum. Jordan Williams moves to the wing replacing the injured Frazier Climo whilst Tongan international Sione Timani replaces injured captain McCusker.

"The guys have come back to us from Wales with a spring in their step and we still have something to play for," said Scarlet head coach Simon Easterby.

"It's positive to hear the boys were looking forward after the game [Wales v Scotland] to come back, hopefully their return can be a good boost to what has been a relatively good period for us."

"[The internationals] have all to a man been keen to continue playing, it's a good boost and it adds to the competitiveness of the squad. The boys played well for us here whilst the Six Nations went on.

"We have to win every game now to get into the top four. I believe that we have what it takes to reach the play-offs with the potential that we have here. It's all still in our hands and we will look to control what we can.

"Glasgow are the best defensive team in the league and they're hard to break down. We will have to be patient on Saturday evening and be prepared to mix up our game."

Meanwhile,, Chris Cusiter starts his second consecutive game for Glasgow as captain, while the Warriors have been boosted by the return of a number of Scotland internationals, along with club captain Al Kellock and winger Sean Maitland.

Kellock has been out for three months with an arm injury, while Maitland was injured in Scotland's opening game of the Six Nations against Ireland at the start of February and both have been named among the replacements.

It is the same back three which started in the narrow defeat to Leinster in Dublin three weeks ago, with Peter Murchie continuing at full-back, Tommy Seymour on the right wing and Niko Matawalu occupying the left wing berth.

Alex Dunbar returns from Scotland duty at centre and links up for the first time with Richie Vernon, who scored a brace of tries against Leinster last time out.

After starting all five of Scotland's Six Nations games, Duncan Weir returns at fly-half, with Cusiter named at scrum-half.

Gordon Reid keeps his place at loosehead, while Dougie Hall comes in for Pat MacArthur at hooker and Jon Welsh replaces Ed Kalman at tighthead.

It is the same second-row which started at the RDS with Tim Swinson and Jonny Gray once again linking up in the engine room.

In the back row Chris Fusaro returns at openside, Rob Harley is at blindside and Josh Strauss continues at number eight.

"We're looking forward to our first game at Scotstoun in six weeks," said head coach Gregor Townsend.

"This is a really important period of the season and it's great that six of our last eight games will be in front of our home support.

"Scarlets are a quality side, who finished in the top four last season and are only seven points and one place behind us in sixth, so they pose a huge threat.

"Although we won down in Wales in October, they beat us home and away last season, so they know what it's like to win at Scotstoun.

"It's great for us to be able to welcome back a number of Scotland players, but we haven't made a lot of changes to the team which narrowly lost to Leinster earlier this month.

"I was pleased with our performance that night and although we didn't get the result we wanted we came very close to beating one of the best sides in Europe.

"It's been a frustrating few months for Al (Kellock) but he's worked really hard to come back and we're delighted to have him involved again. It's also a bonus that Sean (Maitland) has recovered from injury after missing the majority of Scotland's Six Nations campaign."

Form: Glasgow Warriors' last eight matches in all tournaments have all been very close with the vanquished on each occasion securing a losing bonus point. The Warriors 8-6 victory at home to Connacht in their most recent match at Scotstoun on 9 February ended a four game losing run in all competitions at the venue. Scarlets were defeated 13-26 at Ulster in their rearranged game on 14th March to end a three game winning run in the PRO12. Scarlets have been victorious their last three visits to Scotland. Glasgow beat Scarlets 17-12 at Parc y Scarlets in round 5 and are going for a first season's double over the Welshmen since season 2009/10. Scarlets have won on two of their last three visits to Glasgow.

The teams:

For Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Moray Low, 19 Al Kellock, 20 Leone Nakarawa, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Sean Maitland

For Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Jonathan Davies (c), 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Timani, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Richard Kelly, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Gareth Maule

Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
Kickoff: 18:30 GMT
Referee: Alain Rolland
Assistant Referees: Lloyd Linton , David Changleng
TMO: Jim Yuille

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Saturday , September 6
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1Toulon624
2Cardiff Blues614
3Exeter612
4Glasgow Warriors611