The Scarlets travel to Munster tomorrow evening (Thurs) for their rescheduled Magners League fixture at Musgrave Park feeling confident they can take something from the game after a morale-boosting win against Ulster last time out.
Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies has said he has been encouraged by the way his side are building on performances as the Scarlets face another crucial fixture in their mission to climb the Magners League table to reach Heineken Cup qualification next season.
Munster are currently fifth in the table and will look for amwin to help them secure a spot in the play-offs. The Scarlets, on the other hand, need points to help them gain advantage, with a game in hand over the Cardiff Blues, in the battle for automatic qualification for Europe as one of the top three best placed Welsh regions.
And Scarlets have two Wales internationals back with the region as centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Ken Owens both return from Wales’ Six Nations training to start for the Scarlets tomorrow evening.
Rewarded for a shining performance against Ulster, young 19-year-old scrum half Tavis Knoyle keeps his starting place in a side that is largely unchanged from its last game on March 5th against Ulster.
And there will be plenty of the Scarlets’ up and coming talent on show again with 20-year-old full-back Dan Newton retaining his spot at full-back as well as powerful winger Joe Ajuwa (26, former clubs London Welsh, Richmond), who has been playing for Llandovery RFC – also starting once again for the Scarlets on Thursday night.
Damian Welch comes back in onto the bench following time-out from a planned operation on his ankle.
Scarlets Head Coach, Nigel Davies said: "We have two historically tough matches to face now away in Munster and Edinburgh. We are just focusing on these two games as the first stage in a very important run-in to the end of the season for us. If we can go away and get something out of these next two games, it will put in a relatively strong position moving forward.
"Munster may not have all their internationals but we know they are still very strong and they always capable of putting in those massive performances as they’ve shown in Europe.
"But we are looking forward to these next two games, we have a certain amount of belief and confidence that we can put in a couple of good performances. The boys know that is what we have to do and I was pleased with the way we went against a strong Ulster side. We believe there is an opportunity for us out there.
"We’re a team that is not at full strength because of our international commitments and injuries to some key senior players, but we do have a group of players they have had a lot of game time together and that puts us in a strong position.
"We need to build on our performances and if we continue like our last game we will get results. Our players are developing all the time, they realise there is some real competition for places now which is something the coaches want to create. We need to have two quality players in each position – we probably have that in four or five areas at the moment with the No9 shirt being one of them. Its great for us to have two quality players like Martin and Tavis in such a key position."
Davies said that the region had a high pressure few weeks ahead both in the league and Amlin Cup out in Toulon and hoped Scarlets’ supporters would turn out in force to back their team at the next big home fixture against the Cardiff Blues on Saturday 17th April at Parc y Scarlets.
He said: "I think we must realise how important the Magners League is becoming, the innovations put in this season have made a difference and with the introduction of the Italians, you will end up with two very strong Italian sides with big playing budgets, who over time are going to put together very strong squads.
"I think that it will add value. The Magners League is what we are do week-in week-out and it’s improving all the time with some quality teams.
"Europe is another crucial part of our season and also very important to us, and we are now in the quarter finals of Amlin Challenge Cup with a great fixture in Toulon, which is equally exciting for our supporters.
"Whichever competitions we end up being in, our supporters want to see a team that is progressing, a team that is playing entertaining rugby and ultimately winning."
The Scarlets squad is without injured wingers Morgan Stoddart and captain Mark Jones as well as centre Rob Higgitt, Simon Easterby and Dafydd Jones.
Scarlets selection v Munster; Magners League 18th March 2010 (KO 1935) at Musgrave Park.
15 Dan Newton, 14 Joe Ajuwa, 13 Regan King, 12 Jonathan Davies 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 1 Iestyn Thomas, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Lou Reed, 5 Dominic Day, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Richie Pugh 8 David Lyons (capt).
Replacements: 16 Phil John, 17 Emyr Phillips, 18 Damian Welch 19 Rob McCusker, 20 Martin Roberts, 21 Daniel Evans, 22 Gareth Maule