Scarlets team to face the Blues :: 16 Nov 12:11

The Scarlets welcome back three of their Welsh internationals to join a host of rising Scarlets talent in a strong side to face the Cardiff Blues on Saturday night in the LV=Cup second round.

Scarlets Team V Cardiff Blues Saturday 17th November 2012 kick off 1830 at Parc y Scarlets. 15 Liam Williams, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Dan Newton, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Shaun Hopkins, 2 Kirby Myhill, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Johan Snyman, 6 Craig Price, 7 Johnathan Edwards (capt), 8 Kieran Murphy.

Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Phil John, Jacobie Adriaanse, Joel Galley, Dan Thomas, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Nick Reynolds.

Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby fields an exciting mix of experience, flair and ambitious up-and-coming talent in his starting XV with a return to regional action for full-back Liam Williams, hooker Kirby Myhill and tight head Samson Lee who are all released by Wales.

Centre Gareth Maule links up with former Ospreys centre Gareth Owen to create an impressive back line with Liam Williams at full-back, Kristian Phillips and Andy Fenby on the two wings, Dan Newton at outside half and sharp young talent Rhodri Williams at scrum-half who makes his 21st appearance for the Scarlets aged just 19.

The son of former Swansea scrum-half Alan Williams, Rhodri has been involved with the Scarlets set-up since 16, and is a shining example of the success of the region’s development pathway after success in U18 performances for both the Scarlets and Wales. He’s also had a taste of Heineken Cup action, coming off the bench in the November wins against Castres and Northampton last season.

Saturday evening’s big Welsh derby fixture is another great opportunity for a group of new Scarlets faces to impress in the starting line up in front of a home crowd in the second round of LV=Cup competition.

Dan Newton returns from injury to take the pivotal role at 10; new Australian second row Jake Ball gets this second start in a Scarlets shirt alongside the experienced South African Joe Snyman, Craig Price links with Johnathan Edwards (captain) and Kieran Murphy in the back row and the two World Cup 2012 Wales U20 stars Kirby Myhill (hooker) and Samson Lee (tight-head) front up with 27-year-old Llanelli RFC Prop Shaun Hopkins who impressed last weekend.

Despite the disappointment of last weekend’s loss at Worcester Warriors, the Scarlets are intent on a big win on home soil and some positive momentum before they return to two challenging league fixtures ahead against Munster away and then table-toppers Ulster at Parc y Scarlets on 2nd December kick off 4pm.

Forwards Coach Danny Wilson, who was shortlisted as a finalist in Sport Wales’ Performance Development Coach of the Year Awards held this week, said it would be

“This is a big fixture for both sides on Saturday night, not least because it’s a Welsh derby and while the LV=Cup competition provides a platform for a number of developing players to take their chances, it will be a big stage on Saturday night for a number of our younger players.

“We’re balancing the importance of getting positive winning momentum and handing opportunities to a number of players haven’t had a host of starting opportunities this season. It’s about backing our wider squad and allowing them to show the ambition and hunger they have to compete for places.

“We have a number of players, including some recent arrivals, who are eager to prove themselves and will take pride in wearing the Scarlets jersey this weekend. The LV=Cup exposes these players to very competitive rugby and this fixture is a perfect example of what the competition is all about – it’s great for players’ progression and experience but also their will to win.

“We have a strong bench to draw from this weekend; it was good to see Jacobie get his first action and there was no doubting the impact he made in the scrum and it’s positive to see Emyr Phillips make a welcome return after his injury.

“The Blues come here on the back of a decent win against a strong Wasps side last weekend. They’ll have plenty of confidence, regardless of our form against them home and away. Their win will have given them a lift and an away derby is a great follow-up game for them as they try to turn us over on our patch.

“We know from our past fixtures that it will be a high tempo, open game of rugby and hopefully plenty to entertain the home crowd with two sides that like to play. It’ll be down to our ability to be clinical in our execution on Saturday night. When we get it right, we are dangerous on our own patch and in front of our vocal Parc y Scarlets supporters we’ll have an added lift.”