Planet Rugby

Preview: Scarlets v Clermont

17th January 2008 13:39

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stephen jones scarlets

Jones: Can he guide the Scarlets to a much needed win?

The Scarlets have made four changes for their last Pool Five Heineken Cup clash against Clermont at Stradey Park on Saturday.

Without a point from their last five games the Scarlets are playing for pride, although they play host to a Clermont side who are entertaining faint hopes of a quarter-final place. However, the likelihood is that this game will make no difference to the final outcome of the pool.

The changes made by Scarlets director of rugby Phil Davies see Stephen Jones return at fly-half in place of Rhys Priestland, and a return on the right wing for Dafydd James.

James's inclusion sees Darren Daniel drop down to the bench, along with Morgan Stoddart who returns after a slight injury.

Gavin Thomas also returns, prompting a re-shuffle of sorts. Thomas takes the seven jersey meaning captain Simon Easterby switches to the blindside and, in turn, Dafydd James moves to number eight.

At hooker Wales international Matthew Rees takes over from James Hayter, and there is a place on the bench for new signing Mahonri Schwalger. Schwalger signed on a short-term contract in the week to act as cover for the injured Ken Owens.

Clermont know they are all but out, but they still field a strong team to go in search of the impossible.

Springbok Marius Joubert forms a powerful centre pairing with Fijian Seremaļa Bai, while Brock James will need to be at his best at fly-half if Clermont are to rack up the points they need.

Elvis Vermeulen joins Alexandre Audebert and Julien Bonnaire in a strong back row unit, whilst up front Mario Ledesma packs down between Martin Scelzo and Laurent Emmanuelli.

Form: Clermont beat Munster last weekend but couldn't deny the Irish a losing bonus-point which effectively killed their own hopes due to the head-to-heads between the sides. It will be an against all odds progression for Clermont to now qualify. The Scarlets have failed to pick up a single point in the pool of death and were thrashed 40-7 by Wasps. But Phil Davies's men will be targeting next season already and will want to end their campaign with a confidence boosting win.

Scarlets: 15 Ceiron Thomas, 14 Dafydd James, 13 Matthew Watkins, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Mark Jones, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Liam Davies, 8 Dafydd Jones, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Simon Easterby (c), 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Adam Eustace, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.

Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Broster, 18 Nathan Thomas, 19 Alix Popham, 20 Gavin Cattle, 21 Darren Daniel, 22 Morgan Stoddart.

Clermont: 15 Anthony Floch, 14 Grant Esterhuizen, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Seremaļa Bai, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Brock James, 9 Pierre Mignoni (c), 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Alexandre Audebert, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Loic Jacquet, 3 Martin Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Laurent Emmanuelli.

Replacements: 16 Mirko Lozupone, 17 Davit Zirakashvili, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Sam Broomhall, 20 Arnaud Pic, 21 Pierre-Manuel Garcia, 22 Vilimoni Delasau.

Date: Saturday, 19 January

Kick-off: 17:35 GMT

Venue: Stradey Park

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Touch judges: Olan Trevor (Ireland), Gordon Black (Ireland)

Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

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