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Preview: Scarlets v Cardiff Blues

19th April 2013 09:17

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Liam Williams Scarlets 2012

Full-back: Liam Williams

Scarlets international fly-half Rhys Priestland will make a welcome return to the matchday squad for their derby clash with Cardiff Blues on Saturday.

He will not make the starting line-up however as Scarlets coach Simon Easterby has selected an unchanged backs division from the team that beat Glasgow Warriors convincingly last weekend.

One change comes in the forward pack due to injury with Josh Turnbull replacing the injured Jonathan Edwards (shoulder) in the back-row.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues have a further boost to the matchday squad as Bradley Davies returns.

The Blues and Welsh international lock will return to strengthen the bench at this Saturday's match. Davies obtained an ankle ligament injury back in early January and is looking forward to returning to the field this weekend at Parc Y Scarlets.

"I'm refreshed. I'm as fit as I have ever been and looking forward to getting back playing," he said.

"It's going to be a tough challenge but that will bring the best out of us."

Phil Davies has made three changes to the starting XV that helped Cardiff Blues end a four-game losing streak with a 28-13 victory over Zebre last weekend at the Arms Park.

Josh Navidi returns to a starting position and is paired with Warburton in the back-row while Michael Paterson moves to number eight. The other change sees Kristian Dacey start in the front-row in place of Marc Breeze who moves to the bench.

"I was quite pleased with lots of things that we tried to do in the game," said Davies about last week's win. "We had good control; it was a good win for us and will help us to keep the momentum going towards the end of season.

"It has been a season of change! When you put it into perceptive last season we had an average age of 32 and now we have an average of around 23. Last season only 19 of the squad played over 1000 minutes while this season 29 of the squad have played over that.

"We have moved in the right direction. We have lost a lot of games by a score but the experience we have gained this year will be invaluable as we move forward."

Form: Scarlets solitary defeat in their last eight matches in all competitions was 5-32 to Leinster at the RDS on 23rd February. Scarlets have won their last five encounters at Parc y Scarlets since losing there to Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup on 19th January. Just one opposing Welsh region has won at Parc y Scarlets since October 2010: Ospreys in September 2012. Cardiff Blues ended a four game losing streak with their 28-13 home victory over Zebre on Saturday afternoon. The Blues have won just three of their last 17 fixtures with fellow Welsh regions in all competitions, with all three coming against the Dragons. Scarlets have won their last seven matches against the Blues in all tournaments, since the Blues' 39-16 victory at Parc y Scarlets in the PRO12 on 17th April 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 (capt), 7 Josh Turnbull, 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 Jacobie Adriannse, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Maule.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans (c), 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Michael Paterson, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Date: Saturday, April 20
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television match official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)
Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (Wales)

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