Preview: Scarlets v Zebre

Date published: November 27 2015

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made ten changes, nine personnel and one positional, from the side that faced Racing 92 last weekend ahead of Sunday's PRO12 clash against Zebre at Parc y Scarlets.

The PRO12 kicks back into action after a fortnight of European Rugby Champions Cup action, and the Scarlets will be keen to get back to winning ways in the domestic competition.

With six wins from the opening seven rounds of the competition Scarlets are currently in third position in the table, a point behind Munster in second place and two points behind league leaders Connacht.

Sunday's clash against Zebre is the first of two back-to-back Italian jobs with round nine taking Scarlets to Treviso's Stadio Monigo.

Maselino Paulino is the only player who remains in the front five, but is also the one positional change in Pivac's starting XV.

Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips and Samson Lee pack down in the front-row with Lewis Rawlins making a return to the starting line-up. Aaron Shingler and James Davies pack down in the back-row alongside John Barclay, who picks up the captaincy reins this weekend.

Canadian DTH van der Merwe and Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes are the constants in the backline. A new half-back combination in Aled Davies and Aled Thomas join Regan King, Tom Williams and Steff Evans in the five changes to the backs.

Tighthead prop Rhodri Jones is named on the replacements bench looking to make his first regional appearance since January 3 after recovering from a shoulder and pec injury.

"Zebre have some personnel they didn't have last year and didn't play against us in the first game. They rely heavily on the set piece and we have to make sure we're up to the task," said Pivac.

"They're a lot stronger and have two wins under their belts against two sides that aren't too shabby. They've definitely improved and it's good for the competition.

Meanwhile, this will be the last of the four away games in Wales this season for Zebre, who have gained two wins in the previous seven rounds of the competition so far, both at home in Parma. 

The match comes after Zebre earned their first win against an English side in the 27-8 against Worcester Warriors in the Challenge Cup.

The Parma-based franchise will be without the injured internationals Quintin Geldenhuys and Leonardo Sarto.

"We face a team in great shape, most of all in their home stadium, nearly a fort in the Guinness PRO12," said Zebre Rugby team manager Andrea de Rossi .

"We'll take the field with a great desire to fight with the clear goal of making a good performance, really needed for our growth. Last Saturday Challenge Cup win over the Worcester Warrios gave us much morale and confidence. What we're working on more than anything is our confirmation at this high level of performance even on the away games".

Form: Scarlets lost their perfect start to the Guinness PRO12 campaign with their 15-19 defeat to Leinster at the RDS Arena in round 7. The Welshmen’s only defeat at Parc y Scarlets in their last 21 PRO12 fixtures was to Edinburgh in March. Scarlets have not been defeated by an Italian opponent since Treviso visited Llanelli in May 2013.  Zebre’s two Guinness PRO12 victories this season came at home to Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues in rounds 5 and 6, whilst they also beat Worcester in Parma in the European Challenge Cup last Saturday. Zebre’s solitary victory on the road in the PRO12 remains as the one on their visit to Cardiff Blues in September 2013.  The two sides have met on seven previous occasions with the only one that has not resulted in a Scarlets victory being a 16-all draw in Parma in October 2013 -no try bonus points have been scored in any of these games.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Steffan Evans, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Regan King, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay (c) 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Maselino Paulino, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Rob Evans,
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 George Earle, 20 Jack Condy, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Gareth Owen.

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Kayle Van Zyl, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Paul Derbyshire, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 Valerio Bernabò, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Andrea Lovotti. 
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Filippo Ferrarini, 22 Tommaso Boni, 23 Edoardo Padovani.

Date: Sunday 29 November
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse, Craig Evans
TMO: Jon Mason