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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Preview: Dragons v Scarlets

Luke Baker 27 Apr 2018

In the first part of Judgement Day at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Guinness PRO14 champions Scarlets will be hoping to secure a home semi-final by defeating Dragons.

They will have to shrug off the disappointment of last week’s Champions Cup semi-final, however, after they were soundly defeated 38-16 by Conference A rivals Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.

Dragons, who lost their last match 34-32 against Zebre two weeks ago, will be hoping to end a difficult season on a high by finally ending a long stretch without a league victory.

What’s at stake?

Victory for Scarlets would secure them at least a home Semi-final Qualifier in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series, while victory with a try bonus point could still allow them to finish top of Conference A.

Their fate is out of their hands with the latter, however, as they would also require Leinster to be defeated by Connacht without them claiming any bonus points in the process, in addition to a huge points swing.

For Dragons, it’s one last chance this season to end a 15-game winless run in the Guinness PRO14 that stretches back to the end of September.

Team news (Dragons)

Hooker Elliot Dee will captain Dragons for the first time in the absence of lock Cory Hill, who has been ruled out with an Achilles injury.

In total, head coach Bernard Jackman has made four changes to the team that lost at Zebre, with Harri Keddie and James Benjamin coming into the back row, while Rynard Landman moves into the second row to replace Hill.

Thomas Davies replaces Luke Garrett at loosehead prop and Hallam Amos returns from Wales sevens duty at full-back, meaning Zane Kirchner moves to outside centre in place of Sam Beard.

Team news (Scarlets)

Centre Scott Williams captains a strong Scarlets side that sees Ioan Nicholas come in on the right wing, meaning Leigh Halfpenny moves out to full-back and Rhys Patchell inside to fly-half.

Dan Jones moves to the bench as a result, while in the pack Ryan Elias is preferred at hooker to club captain Ken Owens by head coach Wayne Pivac.

Lewis Rawlins will partner Steve Cummins in the second row, with Tadgh Beirne moving to blindside flanker, and Will Boyde steps in for Scotland skipper John Barclay at No.8.

Talking points

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac: “Our players want to get back out there (after last week’s semi final).

“We’re putting out what we believe is the strongest side possible, bearing in mind the workload of some players who won’t be up to playing.

“After last weekend we’re really determined to get a good performance on the board, no matter what they bring to the table.

“You have to respect every opponent because the minute you don’t you take your eye off the ball, you can have a poor performance. We’ve had a couple this season we’d love to get back.”

Key battle Elliot Dee v Ryan Elias

There should be an interesting battle between two hookers who will be aiming for a place in Wales’ starting line-up during their summer tour of the Americas.

There is extra responsibility on Dee, who will be leading his side out for the first time and he will need to be as accurate as possible if he is to help neutralise Scarlets’ potent attack.

It’s a big day for Elias as well, as he has been selected ahead of club stalwart – and current Wales first-choice – Ken Owens and he will be keen to show Wayne Pivac’s faith was well-placed.

Key fact: Scarlets have only lost one of their last 19 contests against the Dragons in the Guinness PRO14.

Did you know? Dragons have lost all five of their previous Judgement Day matches at the Principality Stadium.

Dragons: Hallam Amos, Ashton Hewitt, Zane Kirchner, Connor Edwards, Jared Rosser, Arwel Rosbon, Charlie Davies, Thomas Davies, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Rynard Landman, Harri Keddie, Aaron Wainwright, James Benjamin

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Luke Garrett, Dan Suter, Max Williams, Taine Basham, Sarel Pretorius, Adam Warren, Joe Goodchild

Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny, Ioan Nicholas, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Steve Cummins, Tadhg Beirne, James Davies, Will Boyde

Replacements: Ken Owens, Phil Price, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, John Barclay, Jonathan Evans, Dan Jones, Steff Hughes

TV: Live on BBC Wales and Sky Sports

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.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

Beirne double ensures Scarlets book home quarter-final

Phil Jones 28 Apr 2018

Scarlets’ title defence continued apace at Principality Stadium after a bonus point victory over Dragons, courtesy of a Tadhg Beirne double, saw them book a home quarter-final.

Leading just 7-3 at half time, thanks to a Ryan Elias score, Scarlets powered away in the second half to score the bonus point they required to secure home advantage in the next round.

Scarlets twice turned down kicks to the posts in the opening five minutes to go for the corner.

And it paid dividends in the sixth minute as hooker Elias went over in the left corner from a fine lineout drive.

After some confusion over the grounding the referee’s initial decision to award the try was upheld and Leigh Halfpenny converted from close to the touchline.

But despite the early Scarlets dominance, Dragons reduced their deficit with 15 minutes of the first period to play as Arwel Robson knocked over a routine penalty.

Rhys Patchell then picked his way through the opposition back line but was just brought down with the line at his mercy as Dragons fought not to concede any more before the break.

But try as they might it looked as though they could not stop Scarlets as swift passing from right to left sent Halfpenny comfortably in at the corner – only for the score to be ruled out after the TMO adjudged Gareth Davies had knocked on at the base of the ruck before switching play.

And Scarlets were thwarted again as Joe Davies came in with a try-saving tackle with the clock in the red to deny Patchell what looked like a certain try.

After plenty of collapsed scrums in the first half Dragons hooker Dan Suter was replaced by Christian Coleman early in the second – only for another series of collapses, with Scarlets under the posts, leading to Coleman being sent to the bin, and one more collapse giving Scarlets a penalty try.

The floodgates then creaked open as Beirne finished off a move started by a break from Steven Cummins – Halfpenny striking the conversion against the post.

And the lock got a second, and Scarlets’ all-important fourth, before the hour mark after stealing a Dragons lineout and crashing over when running onto the pass from the recycled ball – Halfpenny adding the extras.

But Dragons got a consolation in the 63rd minute as Jared Rosser dove over in the corner and the score was given despite a lengthy review by the TMO, who finally adjudged the winger successfully grounded the ball – Robson hooking the conversion attempt to the left of the uprights.

There was still time for Scarlets to score a fifth, though, as the Dragons failed to hold Steff Evans down and the winger got back to his feet to find a way through the defence from ten yards out – Halfpenny converting with five minutes to go.

All of which cemented a 33-8 win to set up a home quarter-final against Cheetahs next weekend.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.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