|Welsh national pride celebrated as Scarlets host Edinburgh on St David's Day|
|News - Sports News|
|Thursday, 28 February 2013 22:14|
The Scarlets host 10th placed Edinburgh in the RaboDirect PRO12 at Parc y Scarlets on Friday night with the hosts intent on making it four back-to-back wins at home and stay in the mix for a play-off place.
With the rugby focus firmly on Welsh regions this weekend, with a break in the Six Nations calendar, the race for a semi-final place is gathering pace with six games remaining and still everything to play for the West Wales side.
After losing out in Leinster last weekend, the Scarlets sit in fifth, one point behind the Ospreys and eight behind third place Leinster.
With a break from league action on the horizon until the Scarlets trip to Zebre on Friday 22nd of March, the Scarlets want to finish their block of rugby on a positive note after three wins in succession at Parc Y Scarlets.
Simon Easterby makes five changes to the starting line-up that faced Leinster; with two players who started out in Dublin last weekend not available for selection - George Earle (dead arm) and Josh Turnbull (not released by Wales).
Aled Thomas moves from full back last weekend to start at outside half alongside young half-back Aled Davies at nine who earns his 6th start in a row in a Scarlets shirt.
Samson Lee comes in at tight-head prop; Jake Ball replaces the injured George Earle in the second row and Johnathan Edwards returns from injury (hamstring) to take his place in the back row alongside captain Rob McCusker at no8 and Welsh international Aaron Shingler who returns from Wales again in the back row.
The back-line is boosted by the return of Wales international Liam Williams who takes his favoured position at full-back with the other backs remaining in position from last weekend. Gareth Maule and Adam Warren are retained in centre partnership with Nick Reynolds and the league’s third highest try scorer Andy Fenby (seven tries) on the wings.
The Scarlets’ three game winning run in all competitions ended with their 5-32 reversal in Leinster on Saturday. The Welshmen have won their last three fixtures at Parc y Scarlets since Clermont Auvergne won there, 29-0, in the European Cup on 19 January. Scarlets have won their last four home games against Scottish visitors.
Edinburgh Rugby have slipped to ten successive defeats in all tournaments – their worst run in the professional era. Edinburgh’s only win on their last 14 visits to Wales in all competitions since December 2009 was 21-19 over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 7 September 2012.
The Scarlets have taken four of their last five encounters with Edinburgh, whilst the Scotsmen’s only previous victory at Parc y Scarlets was 17-16 in the PRO12 on 4 December 2009.
Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby said: “We are taking nothing for granted in this fixture and we need to finish this block of rugby on a high point after working hard to regain our home form in the past month.
“Edinburgh had a young side out last weekend, they will bring back some of their experience who will be on a high after being part of the team that beat Ireland at Murrayfield. There’s plenty for their players to prove including trying to impress with a new coaching lead coming in next season.
“The most important thing is for us to focus on a performance to win the game and secure four points - so we won’t be thinking ahead of ourselves or about bonus points.”
“I think we chased the game too much last week when we didn’t need to. We went in 11-5 at half time and with a man in a bin didn’t concede and kept ourselves in the game. We didn’t have much possession in the first half but clawed that back in the start of the second and didn’t show enough composure as we started to chase the game a little bit with plenty of time left to build.
“It was a lesson for us, as we chased the errors crept in and Leinster typically capitalised well on that.”
Easterby said an exciting finish to the season was building: “There is plenty to go in terms of the fixtures left, we have to play Glasgow and a lot of the top placed sides still have to play each other – so it’s going to be about points taken from taken from sides as well as the ones you win. We are in the mix and it’s great that there is still so much to play for in the short amount of games left; we have potentially a really good run in.”
Scarlets Team v Edinburgh Friday March 1st 2013 kick off 7.05pm at Parc y Scarlets; 15 Liam Williams, 14 Nick Reynolds, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Aled Davies, 1 Phil John, 2 Emyr Phillips, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Johan Synman, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Rob McCusker (capt)
Replacements: Matthew Rees, Rhodri Jones, Deacon Manu, Sione Timani, Kieran Murphy, Gareth Davies, Owen Williams, Kristian Phillips.
Gareth Owen is not available for selection as he still recovers from a minor hamstring injury.