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.
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.
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.
|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|