Planet Rugby

Preview: Scarlets v London Irish

27th January 2012 07:35

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Daniel Bowden London Irish

Daniel Bowden: At fly-half for London Irish

Fly-half Daniel Bowden returns from injury to London Irish's starting XV for Saturday's LV=Cup clash with the Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets.

Bowden will partner Daren Allinson at half-back with Marland Yarde and Kieran Low starting on the wing and at blindside flanker respectively after also recovering from injury.

London Irish head coach Toby Booth insisted his side can't afford to underestimate their hosts.

"Scarlets are enjoying a good season, so we will have to be at our best to go there and get a result," he said.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets will be looking to retain a remarkable record against London Irish.

The Welsh region have won all of their 21 fixtures against ther Exiles throughout their history of encounters with the English club - dating back their first-ever game in December 1908.

They field a team of youth and experience with a number of this season's rising stars who made a big impact at the region during the World Cup handed opportunities to perform once again in the Scarlets shirt.

Centre Gareth Maule captains the Scarlets side with Aled Thomas at fly-half, following Stephen Jones' call-up to Wales to join the training camp in Poland.

There is plenty of ambition and flair in the back division with Andy Fenby returning on the wing after recovering from concussion and centre Adam Warren looking to continue his rich form as he returns to the starting line-up after a strong showing in the early part of the season.

Young scrum-half Rhodri Williams starts again at nine after another impressive and energetic performance as part of the Scarlets sensational win in the Heineken Cup last weekend in Castres.

Experience in the pack will give the forwards play an edge with key players Iestyn Thomas, Dominic Day and Johnathan Edwards all retaining their starting places with options on the bench for front-row power from Deacon Manu and Phil John.

Kieran Murphy, another of the Scarlets emerging talent this season, returns from injury at number eight with Ben Morgan on now on England duty.

Try-scorer from last weekend Mat Gilbert retains his place in the back row this time at flanker.

The Scarlets new signing for this season, scrum-half Liam Davies is called up onto the bench for his first opportunity back with this former club.

Head of Scarlets Rugby, Nigel Davies is delighted with his troops' performances this season.

"We're in a good position in all three of our competitions and that's a positive so far in our season but we have to fight hard to make sure that continues," he said.

"When I'm asked what games are our priority, my answer is that our next game is the priority, as we want to get in as many play-offs as we can.

"All our games and competitions are important to us and we are in a strong position and want to retain our momentum and qualify for the semi-final of the LV= Cup."

He said that despite the squad being depleted with injury and a core of 13 key players away on international duty, it was important to recognise the strength-in-depth being created in his Scarlets set-up.

"Something like 40 per cent of our squad were unavailable through injury and with the core of internationals away, we are selecting from a smaller group - but that's what developing players and investing in all your talent is all about," he continued.

"We've also got lot of players that have performed well in the Premiership teams, Llanelli, Llandovery and Carmarthen and so we're giving some of these boys their opportunities ahead of next season's squad planning too."

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Viliami Iongi North, 13 Gareth Maule (c), 12 Adam Warren, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Mat Gilbert, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Adam Powell, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Phil John, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Craig Price, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Daniel Evans, 23 Nick Reynolds.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Daniel Bowden, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 David Sisi, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Brian Blaney, 1 Clarke Dermody (c).
Replacements: 16 Pete Austin, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Faan Rautenbach, 19 Bob Casey, 20 Kieran Roche, 21. Guy Armitage, 22 Shontayne Hape, 23 Ross Samson.

Date: Saturday, January 28
Kick-off: 18:30
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

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