The teams were announced earlier this afternoon for Friday evenings Guinness PRO12 match between Scarlets and Ulster at Parc-y-Scarlets, kick off 19:35. Live on BBCNI. 

Ulster have made nine changes from the Leinster match with internationals Rory Best, Ian Henderson, Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall returning after being rested under IRFU protocol. 

Callum Black and Ross Kane join Best in the Front Row and Kieran Treadwell partners Henderson in second row with Franco vd Merwe and Pete Browne benching. Treadwell seems to have kicked on after an unauspicious start, putting in a lot of work last week after I realised I was getting him and Franco mixed up! 

Chris Henry and Sean Reidy start in the back row alongside Clive Ross. 

Paul Marshall comes in for the injured Ruan Pienaar at scrum half, Shanahan benching, and Louis Ludik starts at full back for the rested Charles Piutau. 

It’s a strong looking bench and I’m pleased to see Jonny Simpson getting another run out. 

The Scarlets have also made wholesale changes from their win against Cardiff, the most noticeable being Wales U20 out half Dan Jones starting at 10. 

It’s been 15 months since Ulster have travelled to Llanelli, which is no bad thing as it hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Belfast outfit. Ulster have a 30% win rate there, having recorded a win and a draw over the last five fixtures, but it’s way back to 2012 since they recorded that last win.  

02/12/2012 Scarlets Away W 19 12
02/11/2013 Scarlets Away L 9 17
06/09/2014 Scarlets Away D 32 32
14/12/2014 Scarlets Away L 13 22
12/09/2015 Scarlets Away L 12 22

The last ten home and away fixtures give Ulster a slight edge with a 55% win ratio but they have had six home games to four aways over the last ten and historically these fixtures have been pretty tight with an average of 8 points separating the teams. 

10/05/2013 Scarlets Home W 28 17
02/11/2013 Scarlets Away L 9 17
14/03/2014 Scarlets Home W 26 13
06/09/2014 Scarlets Away D 32 32
06/12/2014 Scarlets Home W 24 9
14/12/2014 Scarlets Away L 13 22
27/02/2015 Scarlets Home W 25 20
12/09/2015 Scarlets Away L 12 22
21/02/2016 Scarlets Home L 20 21
16/09/2016 Scarlets Home W 19 8

So, we’re looking at a tight game with the home team having the edge being he most likely outcome from past meetings. However it’s a big game for both teams. scarlets will want to build on a good run of form and Ulster will want to make a statement after poor press following the defeat in Dublin. Which way is it going to go? 

The FRU Predicts: It will be tight but I do think that Ulster will be looking to make the bigger statement, particularly up front, and I expect them to record a narrow win. 

Scarlets   Ulster
Johnny McNicholl 15 Louis Ludik
Liam Williams 14 Andrew Trimble
Jonathan Davies 13 Luke Marshall
Hadleigh Parks 12 Stuart McCloskey
Steff Evans 11 Jacob Stockdale
Dan Jones 10 Paddy Jackson
Gareth Davies 9 Paul Marshall
Rob Evans 1 Callum Black
Ken Owens 2 Rory Best
Werner Kruger 3 Ross Kane
Jake Ball 4 Kieran Treadwell
Tom Price 5 Iain Henderson
Lewis Rawlins 6 Clive Ross
James Davies 7 Chris Henry
John Barclay 8 Sean Reidy
     
Ryan Elias 16 John Andrew
Wyn Jones 17 Andrew Warwick
Nicky Thomas 18 Jonny Simpson
Joshua Macleod 19 Franco vd Merwe
Will Boyde 20 Pete Browne
Aled Davies 21 David Shanahan
Aled Thomas 22 Brett Herron
Steff Hughes 23 Tommy Bowe

#SUFTUM