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All Change For Scarlets

All Change For Scarlets


It’s all change – literally – for Llanelli as they prepare to take on Ebbw Vale at Eugene Cross Park in their first Welsh Premiership match of the season on Saturday (Kick-off 2.30pm).

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The Scarlets beat the English premiership’s second placed Sale Sharks in back to back Heineken Cup matches over the previous fortnight and they now make 15 changes, one positional, from the team that secured that last Heineken Cup victory.

But Llanelli have still managed to put out a side that looks strong on paper, with five Welsh internationals, two from USA, including last week’s man-of-the-match David Hodges, one Canadian and one Irish.

Coach Nigel Davies is quick to confirm his club are not taking the Steelmen lightly and, although the Heineken Cup is a priority this season, the Stradey Park outfit are still looking to feed their winning habit.

“We believe in the strength and depth we have accumulated at the club over the previous few seasons and are giving this game to some of the players who have narrowly missed out on selection for European matches,” said Davies.

“The Welsh Premiership is extremely important to us and this is a very serious game. We don’t want to lose any matches and we have picked a team which we believe is capable of maintaining momentum with a victory.

“Any team is only as good as the strength of their squad. There is no doubt that the Heineken Cup is a priority for us, but we need to underpin those performances and show our strength in other competitions and winning is paramount to that.”

Llanelli beat Ebbw Vale 58-13 in a friendly at Eugene Cross Park in November, as they warmed up for the second stage of European matches, but the Scarlets are taking nothing for granted as the sides meet again in domestic competition proper.

“We went to Ebbw Vale for a friendly before we played the two Sale matches and put fifty points on them, which set us in good stead, but they won’t be happy with that and will be looking to kick-back at us,” he added.

“We fully respect Ebbw Vale. They are a very competitive side, they make life difficult for you on the pitch and it will be a completely different proposition to meet in a game with league points at stake.”

Guy Easterby captains Llanelli and Garan Evans, the only surviving member from the starting line-up which beat Sale Sharks last week, moves from full-back to wing. John Davies is the other player to figure in the Scarlet’s home European victory last week to start this week, he came off the bench for Martyn Madden in a double switch, alongside Hodges, which changed the game in Llanelli’s favour.

The capped players in the starting line-up are Garan Evans, Matt Cardey, Neil Boobyer, John Davies and Ian Boobyer for Wales, Hodges and Luke Gross for USA, Guy Easterby for Ireland and Jamie Cudmore for Canada. On the bench the Scarlets feature five Welsh internationals, with the exception of Matthew Watkins and Aled Gravell.

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