Planet Rugby

Preview: Scarlets v Zebre

02nd November 2012 09:00

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Hot streak: Andy Fenby

The Scarlets host Zebre on Saturday with the Italian side still looking for their first win in the RaboDirect Pro12.

The Scarlets come into the game on the back of a five-point bonus win at Murrayfield last weekend against Edinburgh and sit in second on 25 points - one point short of unbeaten Ulster, who have a game in hand.

The Scarlets have only lost two games in their campaign to date and with four tries under their belt last weekend are keen to keep their hold on their top two place before they break for LV=Cup action next week.

With 12 of the Scarlets squad now on duty with Wales ahead of the November internationals, the home game is a chance for the West Wales region to hand starting-place opportunities to a number of their younger developing players and wider squad members.

Former Ospreys duo Kristian Phillips and Gareth Owen get starts in the side to face Zebre with Owen partnering up with Gareth Maule in the centre. Phillips replaces the absent George North on the right wing with Andy Fenby, who has notched up five tries in six appearances this season returning to the field after a fortnight out with injury. Morgan Stoddart moves to full-back.

In the pack, hooker Kirby Myhill returns from a injury with South African second row pairing George Earle and Joe Snyman back to the field after a week's absence and Argentinean international Tomás Vallejosmoves to the back row alongside Johnathan Edwards who takes over as Scarlets skipper with Rob McCusker on international duty and Kieran Murphy comes in at number eight.

"We spoke after our disappointment in Europe about maintaining our momentum in the league and the boys fronted up well, there were a lot of pleasing things in the game and overall to come away from Murrayfield with five points is a good day in the office," said Scarlets attack coach Mark Jones.

Meanwhile, five internationals selected by Italy coach Jacques Brunel are unavailable for Zebre's match with the Scarlets due to the November test matches - Bergamasco, Geldenhuys, Giazzon, Orquera and Venditti.

There are few changes to the starting line-up selected from last Friday's match with Munster, although captain Garcia and scrum-half Martinelli are not travelling to Wales due to injuries suffered at Thomond Park while Perugini is ruled out due to a fever.

Zebre's skipper for the game will be flanker Cristiano on his fifth appearance in the PRO12. Marco Bortolami is still recovering from shoulder surgery.

Form: Scarlets have won their last two RaboDirect PRO12 matches, against Newport Gwent Dragons and Edinburgh, but have slipped to defeat in two of their last three games at Parc y Scarlets in all competitions. Scarlets have already been beaten by an Italian team this season: 20-22 in Treviso on 29 September. Zebre are still looking to add to their tally of just one league point gained so far, during their 19-22 loss in Glasgow in round five of the RaboDirect PRO12. The two teams have never met before. Five Italian teams have visited Parc y Scarlets and all have lost with only Treviso attaining a losing bonus point during a 16-22 defeat on 27 March 2011.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Morgan Stoddart, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Johnathan Edwards (c), 6 Tomás Vallejos, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Craig Hawkins, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Craig Price, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Nick Reynolds.

Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 David Odiete, 13 Matteo Pratichetti,12 Daniel Halangahu, 11 Samuele Pace, 10 Paolo Buso, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Cristiano (c), 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Filippo Cazzola, 4 Josh Sole, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero
Replacements:16 Andrea De Marchi, 17 Luciano Leibson, 18 Carlo Fazzari, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Alberto Chiesa, 22 Leonardo Sarto, 23 Alberto Benettin.

Date: Saturday, 3 November
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 18.30
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Greg Morgan, Alan Jenkins (both WRU)
TMO: Tony Rowlands (WRU)

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