Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Scarlets v Southern Kings

Guinness PRO12 Editor 2 Sep 2017

Southern Kings face a daunting trip to Wales on their Guinness PRO14 debut as they take on last season’s defending champions Scarlets on Saturday at the Parc y Scarlets at 5.30pm. Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac, who has described the Southern Kings as an unknown force, has warned his team they will have a target on their back this season as they look to defend their Guinness PR014 title.

What’s at stake: Scarlets are hoping for a much-improved start to the new campaign; last season saw Pivac’s men fail to register a point from three successive defeats.

Pivac has admitted himself that the Scarlets have experienced an indifferent pre-season and has told his players the title-winning ‘honeymoon’ is done and dusted.

Meanwhile the Kings will be looking to make a winning start on their first taste of the Guinness PRO14.

Team news (Scarlets): Full-back Leigh Halfpenny will make his Scarlets debut after moving to the region from Toulon and he is joined in the back three by Johnny McNicholl and last season’s Guinness PRO12 top try-scorer Steff Evans.

The pack is led by an all-international front row in Rob Evans, Ryan Elias and Samson Lee. International lock Jake Ball is joined in the second row by Tadhg Beirne while Aaron Shingler and James Davies join John Barclay in the backrow.

Team news (Southern Kings): There are just two players in the Southern Kings starting line-up that took the field in their final Super Rugby game of 2017 against the Cheetahs at Port Elizabeth back in July. Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids will field an experienced team, which includes players who have plied their trade in the Guinness PRO14 previously, as well as Super Rugby competition. The side will be led by captain, Michael Willemse.

Talking points: The arrival of British & Irish Lion Halfpenny to the Scarlets starting XV after a stint in France with Toulon has certainly hogged the headlines in the build-up to the game. Halfpenny, who toured with the Lions in New Zealand over the summer, will further strengthen a Scarlets back-line who sparkled last season and will be charged with filling the considerable boots of departed Wales and Lions teammate Liam Williams.

Key battle: The battle up front will go a long way to deciding the outcome of Southern Kings debut appearance in the Guinness PR014. Skipper Michael Willemse, who will play at hooker, will relish the opportunity to go head-to-head with Wales newboy Ryan Elias at scrum time.

The Scarlets have a wealth of international experience in their pack, meaning Willemse, who has been capped five times for South Africa’s U20 team, will know his team will need to compete in the set-piece or face a baptism of fire in Wales.

Key stat: Scarlets will be hoping to pick up where they left off last season, with ten of the side that started May’s Guinness PRO12 final against Munster taking to the field at Parc y Scarlets.

While the Southern Kings will be stepping into the unknown on their Guinness PRO14 debut, Scarlets will be hoping familiarity and consistency of selection will prove the key ingredient on Saturday night.

Scarlets: L Halfpenny; J McNicholl, H Parkes, S Williams, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, R Elias, S Lee, J Ball, T Beirne, A Shingler, James Davies, J Barclay

Replacements: E Phillips, D Evans, W Kruger, D Bulbring, W Boyde, J Evans, R Jones, P Asquith

Southern Kings: M Banda; Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole; K Coleman, R van Rooyen; S Ferreira, M Willemse, R de Klerk, J van Vuuren, D van Schalkwyk, K Majola, A Ntsila, V Sekekete

Replacements: S Coetzee, L Pupuma, E Swanepoel, B de Wee; S Mdaka, G Masimla, N Dukisa, J Nel

TV: Sky Sports Action: (KO 5.15pm)

Match officials – Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU). AR1: Sean Gallagher (IRFU). AR2: Wayne Davies (WRU). TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Scarlets seal sensational opening win over Southern Kings

Paul Eddison 2 Sep 2017

Leigh Halfpenny marked his return to Welsh rugby with a try as Scarlets began their Guinness PRO14 title defence with a comfortable 57-10 victory over South African newcomers Southern Kings.

The current champions ran in seven tries past Deon David’s side, who faded after the break despite a bright start.

It took eight minutes for Scarlets to carve open their southern hemisphere opponents, when the fiery Johnny McNicholl exquisitely dived over in the corner following a blistering break from scrumhalf Gareth Davies.

Halfpenny, who drew the last tackler before offloading to McNicholl, could not add the extras.

But the Kings came roaring back through Yaw Penxe after the winger – who had earlier been denied after a try-saving tackle from Steff Evans – latched onto a beautifully weighted kick from fly-half Kurt Coleman to touch down.

The Scarlets responded through a prolonged period of possession in the Kings’ 22, before Rhys Patchell floated the ball to Halfpenny, who bundled over in the corner.

In a pulsating first-half, the Kings would not let up and reduced the deficit to just two points through a Coleman penalty after an infringement on Rossouw de Klerk.

While Scarlets showcased more threatening attacking prowess, it was fly-half Coleman who dictated large periods of the game, exploiting an occasionally flat Scarlets defence.

But the fly-half’s kick was cancelled out by Halfpenny moments later to maintain the home side’s slim advantage.

It was end-to-end action as the Kings nearly responded through Sibusiso Sithole, who would have crossed the whitewash had it not been for the try-saving heroics of Hadleigh Parkes, who pushed the South African into touch to end an entertaining first-half.

But after the break, the Welsh outfit showcased more expansive rugby as their southern hemisphere counterparts found themselves on the receiving end for much of the second period.

Scarlets began to look the fitter side when, from a penalty line-out, Scott Williams perfectly decoyed his opposite man to allow Patchell to charge over the whitewash.

With daylight now between the two sides, the former Cardiff Blues fly-half converted his own try to lead 22-10.

And it was only a matter of time before Scarlets grabbed the bonus-point when James Davies broke wide and efficiently recycled to Jake Ball, who charged over.

And substitute Emyr Phillips added a fifth after a catch-and-drive saw the Scarlets power over again, with the boot of Halfpenny converting as the Kings struggled to gain any possession.

Parkes, playing against his former side, added to the rout after 70 minutes, with Patchell easily converting in front of the posts.

And McNicholl grabbed his second and his side’s seventh try minutes later as McNicholl – who carried tremendously all game – stormed over in a move which the winger implemented from his own half.

The last few moments saw Steff Evans, who had been industrious all game, join in on the fun to cap off Scarlet’s perfect start to retaining their title.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138