Champions Scarlets will look to continue their title defence when they travel to neighbours Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Ospreys will look to arrest a run of four straight defeats which has seen them slide to joint bottom of Conference A, and despite the form book suggesting only one result, the Swansea side can be quietly confident of producing an upset.
What’s at stake?
Ospreys have lost all their games since their 22-13 opening weekend win at home against Zebre, and come in to the game having lost on their first trip to the Southern Hemisphere going down 44-25 at the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
They will be looking for a big victory against their rivals as they have yet to really hit their straps this season.
Scarlets have won two on the bounce following their 27-20 defeat away at Ulster in Round 3, and will come in to the game full of confidence following their 36-27 bonus point win over Connacht in Round 5.
Scarlets will be delighted with their title defence so far and they sit atop Conference B, and will look to stay there.
Team news (Ospreys):
Ospreys will again be without open-side Justin Tipuric after he suffered a back spasm in training earlier this week. He missed last week’s trip to Bloemfontein to stay at home and look after his pregnant wife.
Boss Steve Tandy has been able to call upon Dan Lydiate after the blind-side missed the last two games, with Olly Cracknell moving to open-side, as Guy Mercer drops out.
He is without hooker Scott Baldwin while the Welsh International starts his recovery from the hand injury he received after being bitten by a lion, and he is replaced by Scott Otten.
Tandy also brings in Bradley Davies for Adam Beard, Jay Baker for Jeff Hassler, Kieron Fonotia for Ben John, and Cory Allen for Keelan Giles.
Team news (Scarlets):
Boss Wayne Pivac makes six changes from the team that overcame Connacht with Hadleigh Parkes and Gareth Davies replacing Scott Williams and Aled Davies in the backs.
Rob Evans is missing with a concussion and Wyn Jones comes in to take his place, with Samson Lee also returning with Werner Kruger missing out.
David Bulbring drops out and so Lee Rawlins can start his first game of the season.
Will Boyde comes in for Josh Macleod and so Tadhg Beirne moves to number 8 for the first time for the Scarlets.
Last time these two sides met at the Liberty Stadium, Ospreys managed to upset their rivals with a 19-9 victory.
But Wayne Pivac is not keeping too close of an eye on the form book.
He said: “They’ll be a dangerous opposition, they always are at the Liberty regardless of their position on the points table and their form leading into it.
“Last year we fancied ourselves going out there but we were beaten across the park that day.
“You don’t have to go back too far to be reminded of how dangerous they can be.
“They’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose which makes them a dangerous opponent from my perspective.
“I just look across their team sheet at what could be facing us and we have the utmost respect for it and the utmost respect for their coaching group.”
Key Battle: Dan Biggar vs Rhys Patchell
Despite the kicking-exploits of Leigh Halfpenny, fly-half Rhys Patchell is joint fifth on the accumulated points table on 39 largely thanks to three tries on top of his nine conversions and two penalties.
It will be at the feet of Dan Biggar to stop his younger compatriot from adding to this on the ground, whilst Patchell will surely want to send a message to Biggar that his place as Wales’s star fly-half isn’t so secure.
Biggar will be making his 150th appearance in the Guinness PRO14, and is just 16 points shy of 1500 league career points on 1484. He sits second in the all-time rankings, behind Dan Parks on 1582.
Patchell won’t be able to do much about Biggar’s place kicking and it would be apt for the already veteran 27-year-old to reach the points milestone within 150 games.
Key Stat: Each team has three wins apiece in the last six meetings between the two, though Ospreys have a much better record against Scarlets in the history of PRO14 with 18 wins to the Llanelli sides’ nine with one game drawn.
Did you know? Ospreys have won three and lost three of their last six matches played at the Liberty, but have only been beaten by another Welsh region there once since October 2010. This defeat was in March 2016 and came at the hands of their opponents this weekend, Scarlets.
Ospreys: Dan Evans, Cory Allen, Kieron Fonotia, James Hook, Jeff Hassler, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Nicky Smith, Scott Otten, Ma’afu Fia, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Dan Lydiate, Olly Cracknell, James King
Replacements: Sam Parry, Paul James, Dmitri Arhip, Lloyd Ashley, Dan Baker, Tom Habberfield, Sam Davies, Owen Watkin
Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny Mcnicholl, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (capt), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Lewis Rawlins, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, Tadhg Beirne
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Dylan Evans, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, Josh Macleod, Aled Davies, Paul Asquith, Scott Williams
Match officials – Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 65th competition game). Assistant Referees: Dan Jones (WRU), Joy Neville (IRFU). Citing Commissioner: Aurwel Morgan (WRU) TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)
Ospreys’ Dan Biggar surpassed 1500 league points but three second-half tries for Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium gave them the narrowest of victories on Saturday night.
Fly-half Biggar kicked six penalties for the Ospreys but two tries for Gareth Davies and one for Samson Lee saw the visiting Scarlets over the line.
The Ospreys pick up a losing bonus point with Biggar second in the all-time point-scoring rankings with 1502 points, just behind Dan Parks who has 1582.
An Ospreys’ fumble nearly gave Scarlets the perfect start as Rhys Patchell raced down right wing before offloading to Davies but a knock on ended the move.
And when Will Boyde was adjudged to have tackled a man off the ball, Dan Biggar was able to step up and put his side three points to the good from the kicking tee.
Patchell, who took on kicking duties after Leigh Halfpenny was ruled out with injury, then dragged a long-range penalty effort wide leaving the score at 3-0 after 19 minutes.
Tadhg Beirne was sent to the sin bin by referee John Lacey after 34 minutes and Biggar took the opportunity to double the hosts’ lead.
After another Patchell miss, Biggar concluded the first half with his third penalty as the Ospreys took a nine-point advantage into the break.
A moment of magic from Steff Evans then lit up the Liberty Stadium as the winger stepped through the Ospreys defence and Davies was on hand to convert the chance.
Biggar kicked another penalty but Davies had his second with just 50 minutes gone.
Once again the scrum-half ran the perfect support line as Jonathan Davies burst through the Ospreys tackles before releasing the Davies to score and bring the Scarlets level at 12-12.
Biggar moved the Ospreys back ahead again before Wyn Jones went inches away from Scarlets’ third try only for the smallest of knock-ons in the process of getting the ball down preventing the score.
But Ospreys replacement Dmitri Arhip was shown a yellow card for bringing down the maul in the build-up and from the resulting penalty Samson Lee went over from a driving maul.
Patchell added the extras to put Scarlets ahead for the first time in the match at 19-15 before Biggar’s record-breaking kick reduced the deficit to a point.
The Ospreys were unable to force another opening though and were forced to settle for a losing bonus point as Scarlets recorded their fifth win of the Guinness PRO14 campaign.
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