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Davies determined not to miss out

Guinness PRO12 Editor

28 Mar 2011

Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies says everyone at the region will be hugely disappointed if they fall short of a Play-Off spot.

Davies and co currently sit in sixth place in the Magners League standings, level on points with the fifth-placed Blues and five points behind the Ospreys, Ulster and Leinster.

Arguably one of the success stories of the season, the Scarlets’ current position is a huge improvement on the previous campaign when only Connacht finished below them in the table.

But having been in the top four for large chunks of the year, anything other than a semi-final spot would leave a sour taste in the mouth in West Wales.

“Finishing in the top four would be very good for us,” said Davies, the Scarlets’ Magners League Ambassador.

“We identified that we wanted to be in the semi-finals at the beginning of the year. We had a good start to put ourselves in a good position.

“From where we were, not to be in the semi-finals would be bitterly disappointing for us as a group.

“We felt that we put ourselves in a good position but then certain results haven’t gone our way and, by our own errors really, we’ve let teams beat us.

“Realistically, we shouldn’t be in this position: we should be sat quite comfortably in a Play-Off spot.

“We’ve now got to make sure we get the results we need to get into the semi-finals.”

After narrowing the gap on fellow Welsh regions the Blues and Ospreys with victory at home to Benetton Treviso on Sunday, the Scarlets now turn their attentions to the final four games of the season, three of which are against Play-Off rivals.

First up is a trip to third-placed Ulster on Friday to face a team with five successive victories under their belts.

Next on the agenda is a home tie with league leaders Munster, before an away fixture at Glasgow and what could be a vital final-day derby clash with the Blues in Llanelli.

“There are some massive games coming up,” added Davies.

“We’ve identified that we have to have a really good run in to compete for a semi-final spot.

“Over the last few weeks, we have let ourselves slip. Perhaps our standards have slipped.

“We know that we need to get our accuracy back up there, be comfortable in our own abilities and be confident that we can string a good bunch of results together to ensure we’re in those semi finals. That’s what we’re targeting as a team.

“Things are looking good if we can just get the form that we had at the start of the season back. Hopefully, the weather will stay like this and we won’t be playing in the rain.”


Morgan Stoddart and Davies (background) are back from Wales duty

Davies was one of five returning international stars to feature in the win over Treviso, with fellow Welsh caps Stephen Jones, Morgan Stoddart, George North and Rob McCusker all having been in the matchday 22 for the final weekend of RBS 6 Nations action.

While Friday’s opponents Ulster have made light work of losing their international contingent during parts of the past two months, the Scarlets have struggled to find their best form.

Head coach Nigel Davies admitted last week that it was a substantial boost to have his big names back at the region and his namesake insists he’s delighted to be back and is ready to make a big impression.

“It’s great to be back at the region. It’s always good coming back. It’s like you’ve been away from your friends and you always have a good catch up.

“Training’s been very good and full of energy and the boys are bouncing off each other. That can only bode well for these last few weeks of the season.

“Our togetherness and closeness as a group will help us but there’s tough games coming up.

“I always put pressure on myself to give good performances and I wouldn’t want that any other way. I find that the more pressure that’s put on me, the better I can perform.

“I’m looking to get right back in the mix with the boys, to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make sure the Scarlets are in the semi-finals.”