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Preview: London Irish v Scarlets

31st January 2014 12:14

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Jonathan Davies

Return: Jonathan Davies

London Irish have recalled James O'Connor, Ofisa Treviranus, David Paice and CJ Van Der Linde to face the Scarlets.

Matt Parr, Paice and Van Der Linde make up the front row. David has returned from injury and CJ is due to make his first start for the club. Bryn Evans and Nic Rouse will start in the second row with Ofisa Treviranus, Danny Kenny and Chris Hala'ufia in the back row.

Tomás O'Leary and Shane Geraghty will continue at half back with Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone back together in the centre. Andrew Fenby, Sailosi Tagicakibau and James O'Connor make up the back three.

"We have made seven changes to the starting side from last week," said Exiles boss Brian Smith.

"It is great to have David Paice back from injury and CJ van Der Linde in for his first start. We want to finish this tournament well in front of our home supporters as we build back into the Premiership next week."

Meanwhile, world-renowned international centre Jonathan Davies will return to action this weekend, after being sidelined with a pectoral tear since the Autumn Internationals, and will line up alongside fellow Scarlets captain Rob McCusker against Irish.

Previous LV= Cup encounters between the two sides came in November 2010 and January 2012 with the Scarlets victorious on both occasions; 16-25 and 27-19 respectively.

Davies makes a welcome return to the Scarlets jersey having last played for the region against Zebre in October.

"It's an opportunity for Jon to get game time after such a long lay-off. It's good news he's had such a speedy recovery and he's done really well to get back in the timeframe he has. He's ready and will play his part for us on the weekend," said Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby.

Deacon Manu also makes a return to action after a long injury; he made his last appearance for the region against Benetton Treviso at Parc y Scarlets in September 2013 when he suffered a fractured arm. Manu start at tighthead prop with Rob Evans his opposite at loosehead and young Darran Harris taking up the hooker berth.

Despite securing victory over Gloucester in poor conditions at Parc y Scarlets last Friday evening Northampton Saints' victory over the Dragons on Saturday means that the Scarlets are no longer in the running for a semi final spot in the LV= Cup competition.

"We're disappointed not to be battling it out for a semi-final spot but it's still important," added Easterby.

"We had some momentum last season from a couple of good performances in the LV= Cup and took that into the PRO12. We have an important month coming up in the league."

Easterby has made seven changes to the side who faced Gloucester last weekend and once again has opted for a mix of youth and experience for this weekend's encounter against London Irish.

Rob McCusker returns to captain the side with Frazier Climo also returning from the sidelines (concussion) and young flanker Lewis Rawlins making his second start for the region.

Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Andrew Fenby, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Shane Geraghty (c), 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Danny Kenny, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 George Skivington, 20 Gerard Ellis, 21 Topsy Ojo, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Sean Kennedy

Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Aaron Warren, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (c), 7 Craig Price, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Richard Kelly, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Darran Harris, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Torin Myhill, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 George Earle, 20 Daniel Thomas, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Adam Warren

Date: Saturday, February 1
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kickoff: 16:00 GMT
Referee: Steve Lee (England)
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Healy (England), Roy Maybank (England)

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Pool 4
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PosTeamPPts
1Clermont Auvergne624
2Harlequins616
3Scarlets611
4Racing Metro Paris67