It has been more than a year since Nasi Manu took to the field for Benetton but the No.8 has been named in the starting line-up for the trip to Parc Y Scarlets.
Manu was diagnosed with testicular cancer in August last year and played his first rugby in 13 months when he came off the bench for Tonga against England at the World Cup – now he’s ready to pull on his club jersey again.
Meanwhile, Blade Thomson returns for Scarlets to play his first game of the season against Benetton after returning from the Rugby World Cup with Scotland.
Scarlets make four changes from the side that beat Toyota Cheetahs last weekend that includes Thomson coming in for Uzair Cassiem.
Kick-off: Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli | 19:35 UK, Saturday November 9
How to watch: Live on Premier Sports 1, DAZN
Players to watch out for: Nasi Manu vs Blade Thomson
If you’re looking for a battle on at the Parc, look no further than the one that is sure to unfold between the returning No.8s.
Both yet to feature for their club sides this season they will be eager to show off their strength at the back of the pack.
It may well be an emotional occasion for Manu too and what better way to mark it than with a standout performance?
Key stat: Scarlets have only lost one of their last nine fixtures at Parc y Scarlets in all tournaments and have lost just twice to Benetton in their last 14 encounters in all competitions.
Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Corey Baldwin, Steff Hughes (c), Paul Asquith, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Kieran Hardy; Phil Price, Taylor Davies, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Steve Cummins, Ed Kennedy, Josh Macleod, Blade Thomson.
Replacements: Marc Jones, Rob Evans, Werner Kruger, Juandre Kruger, Uzair Cassiem, Dane Blacker, Ryan Lamb, Kieron Fonotia
Benetton: Jayden Hayward, Angelo Esposito, Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Benvenuti, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan,Tito Tebaldi, Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva, Marco Riccioni; Irne Herbst, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Abraham Steyn, Blade Thomson
Replacements: Engjel Makelara, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Niccolò Cannone, Dean Budd, Giovanni Pettinelli, Dewaldt Duvenage, Antonio Rizzi
Scarlets kept up the pressure on Munster at the top of Conference B as fly-half Dan Jones held his nerve to kick the winning penalty deep into the red.
An incredibly tight match saw Steff Evans sneak an opener and blows traded between two even teams until a late Tommaso Allan penalty made it 17-17, only for Jones to break Italian hearts with a far from easy penalty.
Scarlets got the opening score in comical fashion, as a hack through saw Benetton with several chances to gather the ball before Steff Evans slid in to touch the ball down at Jayden Hayward’s feet.
Jones converted but Benetton fly-half Allan responded with a penalty, before cutting the deficit to 7-6 with another.
The match see-sawed between the sides in the mid portion of the half but then exploded into life towards the end, as Jones kicked a penalty before incredibile Benetton hands saw the ball flung wide to the right to allow Angelo Esposito to dart over down the flank.
Benetton led 11-10, extended by Allan to 14-10 for the interval, but after the break prop Rob Evans intervened off the bench, winning a scrum penalty before burrowing over the tryline next to the posts.
Jones added the extras for a 17-14 lead and Scarlets attacked at all angles during the last quarter, with Benetton finding a variety of turnovers, penalties and big defensive hits to keep the hosts at bay.
The astonishing final quarter saw Scarlets dominate 83 percent of possession before Benetton finally got into the opposition half for the first time in an age, kick a penalty on 79 minutes only to suffer the late heartbreaker.
Wing Steff Evans was a menace to the Benetton defence all night in west Wales.
All the way from his bizarre, sniping opener, Evans was busy throughout, beat five defenders and took a fine high-ball in the second half before dancing around defenders.
Miss-passes everywhere, Esposito’s try was the perfect example of a team sucking in defenders before hitting the wings.
Attacking several phases deep into the Scarlets 22 the ball was popped out to Allan, with three more extended passes seeing the ball shipped to the waiting Esposito.
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