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Preview: Scarlets v Ospreys

20th September 2012 12:26

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Jonathan Davies

Strong centre combination: Jon Davies and Scott Williams

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby has announced a strong line-up for the PRO12 derby with the Ospreys.

All of the home side's internationals are involved in the matchday squad, with experience and flair to call on from the replacements bench.

With the Scarlets coaches admitting early in the week they had some tough selection decisions to make, there are three changes to the starting line-up that brought about victory over Leinster at the last outing at Parc y Scarlets on September 14.

Jonathan Davies continues his partnership with Scott Williams while Rhys Priestland controls at 10 and Phil John starts at prop with young loosehead Rhodri Jones out with a shoulder injury which was operated on last week.

"There's no doubt this is going to be a big night, and one to capture the imagination of supporters, coaches and players alike as these derbies have done for many years - and it's great that we'll have a packed house here on Friday evening and an atmosphere fitting of a big West Wales derby," said Easterby.

"Welsh regional rugby comes alive at these fixtures and there's no need for any introduction with all the history, heritage and passion between our respective rugby communities.

"The Ospreys may not have had the start they wanted, but a few months ago they were the league champions and know they have the quality within their ranks to turn things around.

"Last season we held them to a draw at the Liberty as well as decent win here at Parc y Scarlets but before that we lost a run of games against them, so we're not getting ahead of ourselves and form or favourite tags don't mean much in these fixtures."

Meanwhile, Tom Isaacs has replaced Jonathan Spratt in the outside centre position for the Ospreys as they look to bounce back from going down at home to Glasgow Warriors.

Rhys Webb makes way for Kahn Fotuali'i at nine while Alun Wyn Jones returns as captain.

"This derby is always a big game, something special, and no doubt that will be the case on Friday. It's great that local rivalries still mean so much, that despite the changes in the game we can still have these big derby matches," said Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy.

"I don't think there's any doubt that who will be going into the game as favourites given recent results. They have been playing good rugby, scoring tries, and their tails will be up, but we'll be doing everything we can to ensure that our fans there on Friday night can head back this side of the bridge proud of their team."

Rugby Union betting odds

Form: Scarlets continue to set the pace in the RaboDirect PRO12, dropping just one possible point from their first three encounters when they failed to score four tries in overcoming Glasgow in round two. Scarlets are unbeaten in their last ten matches at Parc y Scarlets in the tournament, and have not lost to a fellow Welsh region in the competition since they visited Liberty Stadium on 27 December 2010. The only other time that Ospreys have begun a season with three successive defeats was in 2007/08. Ospreys have won their last three clashes with fellow Welsh sides in all competitions. Scarlets' 22-14 victory over Ospreys last Boxing Day ended a seven game winless sequence against their rivals

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Rob McCusker (capt), 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 George Earle, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Peter Edwards, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Johnathan Edwards, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Tom Grabham, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 George Stowers, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 Ryan Jones, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Jonathan Spratt.

Date: Friday, September 21
Kick-off: 19:05 BST
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Jon Mason (Wales)
Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)

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Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs EdinburghGlasgow vs Edinburgh Preview
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Zebre vs Ospreys17:00
Friday , May 2
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Ulster vs Leinster19:30
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Edinburgh vs Munster17:00
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Glasgow vs Zebre18:30
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Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
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Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
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PosTeamPPts
1Leinster2074
2Munster2068
3Ulster2065
4Glasgow Warriors1964
5Ospreys2060