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Preview: Scarlets v Exeter

07th December 2012 10:34

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Jonathan Davies

Captain: Jonathan Davies

Scarlets play host to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday with both sides hunting their first Heineken Cup victory this season

A bonus-point victory is a must if either side hopes to stay in touch in Clermont and Leinster.

Exeter have yet to score a try in this Pool but won't have a better chance to do that than against the Scarlets who have leaked the most in the group.

The Scarlets have lost five or their last Heineken Cup six matches but welcome back six of their Welsh internationals into the starting line-up.

And they will be looking to give their loyal supporters an early Christmas present with a big European win at their home ground, as they add to a strong home record this season with a victory at the last game of 2012 at Parc y Scarlets.

A warm welcome back to heart and soul rugby country will await popular international Scarlets Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Liam Williams, Matthew Rees, Rhys Priestland, Aaron Shingler, Tavis Knoyle, Sione Timani, and young tight head prop call-up Samson Lee.

With under a week to integrate the international players back into the fold, forwards coach Danny Wilson said it was a challenge for all Welsh regions but one they had to get on with.

He added that selection had been tough this week following the strong performances shown by the wider squad during the international window and it was a balancing act between injecting individual international-class quality alongside in-form Scarlets players who had been performing well for their region in recent weeks.

"We knew from the outset how tight it would be for us bringing back the internationals as we go into these double headers in Europe. Of course it's difficult with just a week's prep and with the intensity of international rugby and how that impacts the players bodies," he said.

"But you just get on with it - it's a another challenge you face and all that really matters is getting a result on Saturday and for our players returning it's another big, intense game of rugby."

In the backs centre Jonathan Davies captains the side alongside centre partner, Scott Williams; young Carmarthen scrum-half Aled Davies (20) gets a huge opportunity with his first European start, with Rhys Priestland controlling at 10, Dan Newton at full-back and Liam Williams and Andy Fenby on the wings.

Meanwhile, Exeter coach Rob Baxter has tinkered last week's winning line-up slightly with recalls in the pack for Simon Alcott, Hoani Tui, Damian Welch and Tom Johnson; whilst behind Gonzalo Camacho and Sireli Naqelevuki are also included from the outset.

"We never entered the Heineken Cup saying it is all about where we end up in the table," said the Chiefs coach.

"What we said was that we will give it a real go in every game and that I want to make sure the players experience everything that can from the Heineken Cup."

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies (capt), 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Johan Synman, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Ian Whitten.

Date: Saturday, December 8
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 13:35 GMT
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

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