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Preview: Scarlets v Munster

28th February 2014 10:23

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Back: Jonathan Davies

Wales centre Jonathan Davies returns to action for the Scarlets as they prepare to take on Munster in the PRO12 on Saturday.

Davies' inclusion is head coach Simon Easterby's only change to the side that triumphed over Edinburgh last Saturday.

Davies will line-up alongside former England international Olly Barkley in a new-look centre partnership for the Scarlets as the home side look to continue with their winning run.

"Munster are a pretty good outfit at the minute and are pretty settled," said Easterby.

"They are still able to pick a very strong team despite missing a number of internationals.

"We are under no illusion that they'll be coming here nothing less than well equipped to mix up their game and we will have to be at our best and far better defensively.

"Having narrowly missed out on a victory late on in injury time against Munster at Musgrave Park before Christmas we've had plenty of motivation in training this week! We put ourselves in a really good position to win away from home but gave them a foothold in the dying minutes and managed to stick at it."

With nine points from ten in the previous two rounds Easterby went on to say: "We had a clear vision coming back into this block of RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures, there were 50 points up for grabs and we're focused on being as clinical as we can be to pick up as many of those 50 points as we can.

"We just need to keep believing and keep pushing. I definitely feel that we can take confidence from the last couple of results and take on Munster with plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile, Donncha O'Callaghan joins Donnacha Ryan in the second-row for the trip to Llanelli as one of eight changes to the Munster side that beat Ospreys last weekend with James Coughlan captaining the team.

There are four changes in the backs with Duncan Williams taking the place of Cathal Sheridan at scrum-half after the Sligo man broke a bone in his forearm last week with Ian Keatley remaining at fly-half.

Johne Murphy and Gerhard van den Heever are both drafted into the side on the wings with Simon Zebo moving to full-back.

Denis Hurley comes in at inside centre with Casey Laulala keeping his place at outside centre.

Two of the four changes in the forwards involve the front-row with Irish international props Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer joining hooker Duncan Casey who maintains his place to make his fifth start for the province.

O'Callaghan and Ryan make up the second-row and CJ Stander takes the place of Sean Dougall in the back-row with Tommy O'Donnell keeping his place and Coughlan captaining the side from number eight once again.

Young Munster's Ger Slattery, James Cronin and BJ Botha provide the front-row cover with Dave Foley and Dougall also ready to make an impact off the bench.

Gerry Hurley, JJ Hanrahan and Ronan O'Mahony are the three backs named in the replacements.

Form: Scarlets have won their last two matches in the RaboDirect PRO12, in Treviso and at home to Edinburgh, but have not won three in a row in the tournament since last April. The Welshmen have won three of their last four fixtures with Irish provinces at Parc y Scarlets. Munster's single defeat in the PRO12 since round 3 was 19-29 against Ulster at Ravenhill on 3rd January. The Munstermen are going for a clean sweep of 8 successive wins over Welsh regions this season, a feat that has never been accomplished by any side before. The Scarlets 18-10 victory over Munster at Parc y Scarlets in February 2013 ended an impressive run of success for Munster in matches played in Llanelli - the home side never having won on their own park since March 2007.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (c), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Gareth Maule, 23 Adam Warren

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan (c), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Ger Slattery, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Gerry Hurley, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ronan O'Mahony.

Date: Saturday, March 1
Kick-off: 18:30 GMT
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies, Rhys Thomas (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (WRU)
TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)

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