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Preview: Dragons v Scarlets

29th March 2013 11:40

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George North Scarlets

Recalled: George North

The Scarlets welcome back key internationals at the Millennium Stadium as they face the Dragons.

Wales centres Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams, wings George North and Liam Williams and hookers Matthew Rees and Ken Owens will all be back in Scarlets action, with head coach Simon Easterby saying his West Wales side had benefited from the competition for places in training this week.

It will be a special milestone for Davies as he plays his 100th game for the Scarlets on Saturday.

The Scarlets travel to the Millennium Stadium on Friday to finalise their preparations with a captain's run and with it the chance for a number of players to get their first ever taste of running out on the national stadium pitch.

"We're looking forward to this game, I think it's a great initiative for regional rugby on the back of a successful Welsh rugby campaign in the Six Nations and it gives the opportunity to a wider set of rugby supporters to be part of the big match atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium," said Easterby.

"Hopefully, we can build on this first one and it will become an annual event that becomes bigger and more established each year.

"The boys have prepared well - it's been an intense training week at Parc y Scarlets with plenty of competition to get into the starting XV which has really added an edge.

"Those players that are coming into the side this weekend know they have a big responsibility to the shirt, to maintain momentum and back up the good work that the team has put in in previous weeks - the boys have worked hard in the last five games to keep us in a strong position for a play-off place and they deserve a lot of credit."

Meanwhile, the Dragons have made wholesale changes to their side as they take on the Scarlets.

Following his success with the Welsh team, Andrew Coombs will lead the side as the region make their first outing on the national pitch. Fellow internationals Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate are also named in a strong back-row with Nic Cudd retaining his place at openside.

It's all change in the front-row as Coundley, Gustafson and Way return to the squad. Buck and Parry move to the bench whilst loosehead Phil Price is scheduled for knee surgery on Tuesday.

Form: The Dragons' only two wins in the RaboDirect PRO12 since round 9 have both been against Italian opponents. Dragons have lost their last six encounters with fellow Welsh regions in the PRO12 since beating Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade 15 March 2012. This will be Dragons first ever visit to the Millennium Stadium. Scarlets solo defeat in their last six matches in all competitions was 5-32 to Leinster at the RDS on 23 February. Scarlets have lost just two of their last thirteen contests with fellow Welsh regions in all tournaments. Scarlets only previous visit to the Millennium Stadium came on 4 March 2006 in the semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, beating Bath there 27-26. Scarlets have won the last nine encounters between the two teams in the RaboDirect PRO12.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ross Wardle, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Jonathan Evans; 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Dan Way, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Adam Hughes.

Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (c) 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Synman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Date: Saturday, 30 March
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason (both WRU)
TMO: Tony Rowlands (WRU)

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