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Preview – Scarlets v Benetton 

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac can call on the services of centres Scott Williams and Hadleigh Parkes and back-row John Barclay, all released from their international camps for the championship clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Williams will captain the side as the Scarlets look to secure their seventh victory in the PRO14 to keep them atop of Conference B with the championship taking a fortnight’s break after round eight’s completion.

Barclay will make his first appearance in Scarlets colours since suffering a concussion against Edinburgh at the end of September. Barclay’s return sees Tadhg Beirne move to blindside flank with Will Boyde on the openside. Lewis Rawlins and David Bulbring partner up in the second row with Dylan Evans, Ryan Elias and Werner Kruger packing down in the front row.

Johnny McNicholl moves to full-back with Paul Asquith coming in on the wing. Winger Tom Prydie, fly-half Dan Jones and scrum-half Jonathan Evans will make their first competitive starts for the region.

Looking ahead to the challenge head coach Pivac said; “It’s probably our biggest test since we took over as a coaching group.

“It’s exciting. We’ve talked about how well we’ve gone in the last few years during the international windows and this is the biggest test for that particular group of people.

“We want to put on a good display as a team so everybody can hopefully enjoy the success and enjoy what has been a proud run at home in this competition.

“Having said that we’re expecting a big challenge. It’s a home game, we see all home games as a must win for us and if they come over fully loaded we’ll be very happy to come out of it with a win. It’s definitely a target of ours to get four points.”

Meanwhile, Benetton head coach Kieran Crowley has made 10 changes to his starting XV that lost at home to Edinburgh last weekend.

In the back-line, Jayden Hayward lines up at full-back alongside Angelo Esposito and Andrea Bronzini, who are on the wings. Tommaso Benvenuti and Ignacio Brex will form the midfield combination.

The half backs are Giorgio Bronzini, who starts at scrum-half, and fly-half Ian McKinley.

The front row will consist of Tomas Baravalle, who packs down at hooker, with Cherif Traore and Tiziano Pasquali the starting props.

Alessandro Zanni and Federico Ruzza will pack down in the second row. Finally, the back row sees Whetu Douglas and Nasi Manu starting on the flanks with captain Robert Barbieri (number eight) completing the XV chosen by Crowley.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 John Barclay, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Dylan Evans
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Rhys Jones, 23 Steff Hughes

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Andrea Bronzini, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Robert Barbieri (c), 7 Nasi Manu, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Filippo Filippetto, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Sebastian Negri, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Alberto Sgarbi, 23 Luca Sperandio

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