Scarlets didn’t have it all their own way in Europe but will be looking to maintain the reigning Guinness PRO14 champions have looked good in the league and sit atop Conference B.
The Blues meanwhile secured back-to-back Challenge Cup victories, including an impressive away win at Toulouse, as a spring board to propel themselves up the league table.
What’s at stake? With joint-second Ulster and Leinster facing off and hot on the Scarlets’ heels, the champions will have to overcome the Blues in order to hold on to first place.
The visitors meanwhile sit just ten points off second which is by no means a bridge too far at this early stage of the season and plenty of games still to play.
Team news (Scarlets): The Scarlets have only made one change to the backline lost in the last week’s Champions Cup tie against Bath as captain Scott Williams returns at centre with Jonathan Davies moving to the bench.
In the forward pack there are two changes with Ryan Elias replacing Ken Owens at hooker and Werner Kruger in for tighthead prop Samson Lee.
Team news (Blues): The Blues have made five changes on their return to Guinness PRO14 action, with Willis Halolo returning in the backs.
There are four changes in the pack, with Brad Thyer and Dillon Lewis coming in to the front row alongside captain Kristian Dacey.
Lock Seb Davies and flanker Olly Robinson stepping into the starting XV from the bench.
Talking points: Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac has just signed a new two-year deal which will see him stay with the club until the end of 2019-20.
This is Scarlets first home derby of the season having narrowly overcome Ospreys by just a single point in round 6.
“We’ve now got a big game against Cardiff Blues to look forward to. They’re always tight affairs and usually physical encounters,” said Pivac.
“We’ve reprogrammed ourselves if you like back into the PRO14 and we’ll hopefully see some good weather and we can play some good footy.
“We know the individuals in their side, they know our guys really well, the coaches know each other. It makes for an exciting game and in our calendar it’s always one that we all look forward to.”
Key Battle: Experienced Alex Cuthbert and rising star Steffan Evans will face off on the wing having featured together for Wales in the summer test against Tonga.
Evans was last season’s leading try scorer with 11 scores, but he will face a physical battle with the giant Cuthbert to add to the three he has scored so far this season
Key Stat: Cardiff Blues have won four of their last five games against fellow Welsh regions.
Did you know? Scarlets have won every Guinness PRO14 game they have played at the Parc y Scarlets since the opening weekend of last season. The last Welsh region to beat them at home was their opponents, the Blues, in April 2016.
Scarlets: L Halfpenny, J Mcnicholl, H Parkes, S Williams, S Evans, R Patchell, G Davies, W Jones, R Elias, W Kruger, J Ball, L Rawlins, A Shingler, W Boyde, T Beirne
Replacements: K Owens, D Evans, S Gardiner, D Bulbring, J Macleod, J Evans, P Asquith, J Davies
Blues: M Morgan, A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, B Scully, J Evans, T Williams, B Thyer, K Dacey, D Lewis, S Davies, J Down, J Navidi, O Robinson, N Williams
Replacements: M Rees, C Domachowski, K Assiratti, M Cook, J Turnbull, L Williams, S Shingler, R Williams
TV: S4C (KO 7:15pm)
Match officials – Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU), AR1: Rhys Thomas (WRU), AR2: Jon Hardy (WRU), Citing Commisioner: Ray Wilton (WRU), TMO: Neil Hennessey (WRU)
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
Scarlets extended their unbeaten home run in the Guinness PRO14 with a bonus point victory over Cardiff Blues at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday night.
The Conference B leaders have won every league game at home since the opening weekend of last season but they were made to work hard for their derby victory.
First half tries from Hadleigh Parkes and Ryan Elias were cancelled out by scores from Willis Halaholo and Lloyd Williams, on his 150th appearance for the Blues.
But Scarlets’ tries from Jonathan Evans and Steff Evans in the final 20 minutes of the match gave them a hard-fought bonus point victory.
Leigh Halfpenny and Jarrod Evans exchanged early penalties before Hadleigh Parkes waltzed through the Blues defence to score the opening try of the match.
Halfpenny extended the home side’s lead with a second penalty before the visitors saw No.8 Nick Williams sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.
Scott Williams thought he had added to the Scarlets lead on the half hour but after consultation with the TMO referee Stuart Berry adjudged the centre to have knocked on.
The Scarets weren’t to be denied though, referee Berry went back to the penalty which was kicked to the corner and the home side drove over with hooker Ryan Elias touching down.
Full-back Halfpenny nailed the conversion from the touchline to give the Scarlets an 18-3 lead at the break at Parc y Scarlets.
Cardiff Blues were back into the match thanks to a brilliant step from centre Willis Halaholo which allowed him a comfortable 20 metre run-in with Shingler adding the extras.
And it was a one-point game when winger Johnny McNicholl coughed up possession as he collected a grubber kick on his own line and Lloyd Williams grabbed an opportunistic score.
The Scarlets responded immediately through the excellent Steff Evans, the winger had time and space to slot a clever kick through and replacement Jonathan Evans dived on the loose ball.
And Steff Evans had the home side’s bonus point try with 70 minutes played as he benefited from some lovely Scarlets’ hands to score his fourth try of the campaign.
Rhys Patchell added the conversion and secure Scarlets’ sixth win of the campaign and keep them at the top of Conference B after Leinster’s victory over Ulster had temporarily dethroned them.
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 can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
27 Oct 2017
27 Oct 2017