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Preview: Scarlets v Glasgow

11th April 2013 12:02

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Mark Bennet Glasgow Warriors PRO12 2013

Mark Bennett: Starts at 13 for Glasgow

Scotland U20 centre Mark Bennett has been named in Glasgow Warriors' starting XV for Friday's clash with the Scarlets in Llanelli.

Bennett has been handed only his third start, since re-joining the Warriors in November.

The Scotstoun-based side are currently sitting at the top of the PRO12 and chasing a play-off spot, with just three games remaining.

20-year-old Bennett has scored two tries in three appearances for the Warriors this season and came off the bench to score against Munster last week, with his other try coming in the 60-3 victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade in February.

The other changes to the starting XV that beat Munster 51-24 at Scotstoun last Friday sees Henry Pyrgos replacing Niko Matawalu at scrum-half, Tom Ryder coming into the second-row in place of Tim Swinson and props Moray Low and Gordon Reid replacing Jon Welsh and Ryan Grant.

Sean Lamont, Matawalu, Swinson and Grant drop to the bench, while Welsh is not included in the 23-man squad.

Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend is optimistic about his side's chances against the Scarlets.

"Training has been really good this week and we had a very competitive day on Monday," he said.

"Everyone has come back fresh from a week off, so we're looking for that to benefit us during the run-in.

"The skill level and commitment of the players has been excellent all season and we'll need another big performance tomorrow night.

"We played well in the second half against Munster and it was a fantastic result for the club, but our focus is now very much on Scarlets and we're expecting an extremely tough game."

It is a familiar looking back row with John Barclay, Josh Strauss and Ryan Wilson once again combining.

Meanwhile, Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby has made just two personnel changes to his matchday 23 from the winning side that beat the Dragons in the derby double header at the Millennium Stadium last time out.

Wing Andy Fenby comes back into the starting line-up and scrum-half Gareth Davies comes onto the bench. Liam Williams moves from wing to full-back for Gareth Owen (illness) and Ken Owens starts at hooker with Matthew Rees on the bench.

Easterby said his side were very conscious of the threat brought by a confident Glasgow Warriors side that had put so many points on Munster and when last in Wales against the Dragons.

"Both teams are going to be determined to come away with points from Friday night's game," he explained.

"This is going to be a very big test for us and it's a high pressure game for us all but one we look forward to.

"They showed against Munster in particular how effective they can be; it's been positive that we've had some added time to study them, with the break for European games and really look at areas we want to attack in their game.

"They are obviously on form and are playing a decent brand of rugby and scoring plenty of points."

Easterby wants the Scarlets to find the top of their game on Friday, particularly without the ball and ensure they don't let a buoyant Glasgow side get into their stride.

"We'll have to be effective without the ball and much more secure than we've been in the last two matches otherwise Glasgow will punish us, we are very mindful of some key areas of their game when they have the ball," he added.

"But we have plenty of focus and drive as a group right now with this opportunity for silverware still in our hands, which has given a real energy to our preparations at Parc y Scarlets.

"We really want to kick on in these last three games the PRO12 and show what we stand for - particularly in front of our home crowd.

"This is a massive game in the context of our season - it will be a tough with Glasgow playing so well but this is what it's all about and the boys have worked very hard this week.

"We need as much of our home support behind as we can get. It's set be a great occasion on Friday night at Parc y Scarlets."

Form: Scarlets have lost just one of their last seven matches in all competitions: 5-32 to Leinster at the RDS in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 23rd February. The Llanelli based side have won their last four encounters at Parc y Scarlets, Scarlets are going for a clean sweep over Scottish opponents this season. Glasgow Warriors only loss in their last nine PRO12 fixtures was 17-22 to Leinster at the RDS on 23rd March. The Warriors have won eight of their last nine encounters with the Welsh regions. Glasgow have won just one of their last five matches against the Scarlets: 19-9 at Firhill in February 2012. Warriors have not won at Parc y Scarlets since May 2010.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 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 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont.

Date: Friday, April 12
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Kick-off: 19.05 GMT
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason (both Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Citing commisioner: Jeff Mark (Wales)

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