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Scarlets To Play Derby In True Spirit

Scarlets To Play Derby In True Spirit

Llanelli are looking for a repeat, in terms of spirit and passion, of their 62-6 victory over Swansea last October when the sides meet in the Welsh Premiership tomorrow (Friday, K.O. 1905) – but director of rugby Gareth Jenkins has decreed there will be no repeat of the more violent elements of that clash at Stradey Park.
The Autumn Celtic League match saw Swansea’s Gavin Henson (red card) and Dean Thomas (two yellows) leave the field early and both teams getting ‘carried away’ with the pre-match hype.
Since then, top grade rugby has come thick and fast at Stradey Park. Starting with the second week in December the Scarlets have notched up home victories over the English premiership’s high fliers Sale Sharks in Europe, in front of a 7,000 plus crowd, they repeated the feat against Newport on Boxing day and now look forward to a near capacity derby to warm up for Europe again.
And Jenkins has called on all involved to ensure rugby is the winner when the West Wales rivals meet as the Scarlets look for their first Welsh league win over Swansea for two seasons.
Llanelli have hit a rich vein of form, but their coach admits that the traditional derby atmosphere means that will be no barometer when deciding the outcome.
‘As usual the form book goes out of the window,’ said Jenkins. ‘These games are quite unique and mean a lot to both sets of fans and players.
‘That said, we are adamant that there won’t be a repeat of the incidents that marred our last meeting. We need the spirit and the passion without the violence in order to do justice to the occasion.
‘Of course, we are looking ahead to Europe and meeting Bourgoin in the Heineken Cup and we have a busy few weeks ahead, but this is a game in its own right. We have clear objectives and have targeted certain areas of our game to improve on.’
Long term injury victim Matt Cardey provides a welcome boost to the squad returning to the bench after key hole surgery on his knee, as does Scott Quinnell whose bruised ribs have now fully recovered.
Other knee injuries have hampered the preparations of Salesi Finau and Martyn Madden, with Finau now unlikely to return in time for the resumption of the Scarlets’ European campaign. He will know more when he gets the results of a recent knee scan.
Madden should recover after rest and Wayne Proctor will return from his mandatory three week lay-off for concussion, after the weekend.
‘We are glad to see Matt back and making himself available for selection,’ added Jenkins. ‘He has had a run of bad luck with injuries and we now hope he can stay fit and we can see the best of him again.’
Llanelli: Barry Davies; Mark Jones, Matthew Watkins, Leigh Davies (Captain), Garan Evans, Stephen Jones, Guy Easterby; Iestyn Thomas, Robin McBryde, John Davies, Vernon Cooper, Chris Wyatt, Simon Easterby, Dafydd Jones, David Hodges.
Replacements: Phil John, Marcus Thomas, Luke Gross, Scott Quinnell, Dwayne Peel, Gareth Bowen, Matt Cardey.
Swansea:1. Darren Morris (c) 2. Christian Balshen 3. Ben Evans 4. Johnathan Thomas 5. John Slade 6. Dean Thomas 7. Colin Charvis 8. James Bater 9. Sam Cordingley 10. Gavin Henson 11. Shaun Payne 12. Scott Gibbs 13. Mark Taylor 14. Matthew Robinson 15. Kevin Morgan
Replacemetns 16. Rhodri Jones 17. Arwel Thomas 18. Richard Rees 19. Dan Dorsey 20. Rory Jenkins 21. Richard Francis 22. Chris Wells

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