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Preview: Scarlets v Ulster

30th November 2012 06:32

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Paul Marshall Ulster

Starter: Paul Marshall

The Scarlets welcome back three of their squad from international duty all of whom give strength to the bench for Sunday's game - Deacon Manu (Fiji), Tomas Vallejos (Argentina) and Kirby Myhill (Wales).

A big win over Munster last week has kept competition tight between the top six and the Scarlets know how important a home win will be to their ambitions for a top four play-off place later in the season as they host the leaders.

"They have threats all over the park, so we know we'll have to be at the top of our game. It's going to be a real challenge for us, one we're looking forward to and a great game of rugby is in prospect if the conditions allow," said Scarlets attack coach Mark Jones.

Meanwhile, Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has made nine changes for the top-of-the-table RaboDirect PRO12 clash.

Captain Johann Muller has returned from a thumb injury to captain the side in one of five changes to the pack, while Rory Best is fit enough to be named on the bench after overcoming neck problems.

After their exertions in recent weeks, Anscombe has decided to rest back row players Nick Williams and Chris Henry, in addition to backline stars Ruan Pienaar, Paddy Wallace and Jared Payne. Stephen Ferris, Lewis Stevenson and Declan Fitzpatrick are all sidelined through injury.

Form: Scarlets have won their last four games in the RaboDirect PRO12, whilst their only defeat in the tournament at Parc y Scarlets in their last 13 fixtures was 16-23 to Ospreys on 21 September. No Irish province has won at the stadium since Leinster were the visitors on 24 September 2011. Ulster's superb unblemished start to the 2012/13 campaign continues apace with eleven straight wins in all competitions. The Ulstermen are attempting to complete a clean sweep of victories away from home to the Welsh regions this season. The last three matches between the two sides have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Ulster's only win in Llanelli came on 18 February 2011.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 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 George Earle, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Craig Price, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Nick Reynolds.

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson , 7 Robbie Diack, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Nigel McComb, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Date: Sunday, December 2
Kick-off: 16:00
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: James Jones (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
Television match official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)

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PosTeamPPts
1Leinster1969
2Ulster1965
3Munster1963
4Glasgow Warriors1860
5Ospreys1956