Planet Rugby

Preview: Scarlets v Clermont

11th December 2013 09:18

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Clermont v Scarlets Damien Chouly

Second battle: Clermont & Scarlets

The Scarlets will be looking for a warm welcome home at Parc y Scarlets as they host last year's Heineken Cup finalists Clermont.

After being on the road for their last four games, the West Wales side return to their home supporters after putting in a huge performance and effort out in France last weekend but not coming away with any points.

Now the Scarlets have the chance to stand up to the French super side once again - this time on their home soil and the hosts know that in the vital fourth round a win is a must to ensure they remain in the running in their pool.

Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby said that the end score line against Clermont last weekend didn't do his team justice considering the amount of effort put in.

"There were some sore minds as well as sore bodies after the game last weekend because the boys put a huge amount into that performance and we held well on in the first half," said Easterby.

"We tried to outmuscle them and for 45 minutes when it was just 6-3 at half time, we showed we had enough to stand up to them.

"Our challenge this weekend is to ensure we get more possession and put some decent sustained pressure on Clermont - if we can get to 50/50 possession in the game then there's options for us. We had to defend heavily for too longer periods last weekend.

"What's impressive about Clermont is that they have the strike power to be able to vary their game with ease; they can play more than one way. Our role this weekend is that we'll have to try and starve them of opportunities and one way to do that is to keep hold of the ball ourselves."

Easterby said that the fourth round was a make or break week for the Scarlets.

"This is a major game for us this weekend, it is vital we get a result on Saturday afternoon if we want to progress in this group," added Easterby.

"We will have to keep tempo in our game but we have to stop them at source first and think a little better and hold onto the ball more.

"Playing these big, high profile games is huge experience for a number of our young players who have come through and developed further as a result of the opportunities we are handing them particularly in Europe.

"We hope to have a good home crowd behind us on Saturday and it will be great to be back at Parc y Scarlets and with our supporters creating a big European match day atmosphere - it will help lift and inspire our players even more."

Meanwhile for the trip to Wales, Clermont have decided to make six changes to their starting XV.

Jean-Marcellin Buttin starts at full-back against the Scarlets in place of Welshman Lee Byrne.

Mike Delany makes his first start in the Heineken Cup at fly-half, working with Thierry Lacrampe at half-back. The pack welcomes back Clément Ric, Julien Pierre, Damien Chouly and Julien Bardy .

Clermont currently hold a three-point lead at the top of Pool 4 having seen off the Scarlets 32-11 at the Stade Marcel Michelin last weekend, bouncing back from their Round 1 defeat to Racing Métro.

Clermont have only lost once in their last 11 Heineken Cup pool games.

The Scarlets recent record is not as strong, with the 33-26 win over Harlequins being their only win in their last nine European games. The Welsh side have struggled against Clermont at Parc y Scarlets, failing to score points on two occasions.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Nick Reynolds, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 George Earle, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Jo Snyman, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Adam Warren.

Clermont: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 12 Regan King, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Clément Ric, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Nathan Hines, 20 Fritz Lee, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic , 22 Brock James, 23 Noa Nakaitaci.

Date: Saturday 14th December
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 15:40 (local & GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley, Nigel Carrick (both England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)

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