Eighteen Scarlets on show for Six Nations finale

Menna Isaac News

Eighteen Scarlets will pull on the Wales jersey this weekend for the final round of the 2019 Six Nations.

Warren Gatland’s men go in pursuit of a coveted Grand Slam in what will be the New Zealander’s final championship match at the helm.

Gatland has named an unchanged squad for the clash with Ireland, one which contains six Scarlets.

The midfield pairing of Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies – so influential in the hard-earned win over Scotland last time out – Gareth Davies, Rob Evans and regional skipper Ken Owens are again selected in the starting XV, while Jake Ball will be looking to make his usual impact off the bench.

“They’ve got class players across the park so it’s going to be a tough Test match. It’s one of those exciting matches which you don’t get to play in every week,” said Parkes in his column for BBC Sport.

“Some players go through their whole lives, their whole careers, never playing in a semi-final or a final and this feels like that final mentality. For us, that’s how we look at it.

“We’re coming up against a very tough opposition. It’s number two against number three in the world. But that excites me.”

There will be a familiar face in the opposition ranks with former Scarlets favourite Tadhg Beirne handed his first Six Nations start for Ireland.

Beirne enjoyed two outstanding seasons in West Wales before joining Munster last summer.

Before Saturday’s Principality Stadium showdown, Wales Under-20s take on their Irish counterparts in Colwyn Bay tonight.

Ireland wrapped up the championship courtesy of their win over France last weekend, but will have the Grand Slam in their sights at the Zipworld Stadium.

Wales Under-20s coach Gareth Williams has reshuffled his side following the disappointing loss to the Scots in Meggetland.

Scarlets flyer Tomi Lewis returns from injury to take his place on the wing, but the all-Scarlets back-row of Ellis Thomas, Iestyn Rees and Jac Morgan are retained.

Jac Price and fit-again wing Ryan Conbeer are named among the replacements.

Rowland Phillips’s Wales women’s team will be hoping to build on their last-gasp triumph over Scotland when they face Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday afternoon (1.30pm kick-off).

Scarlets flanker Alisha Butchers returns to the side and joins her regional team-mates Jasmine Joyce, Hannah Jones and Lleucu George in the starting XV. Alex Callender and Ffion Lewis are named on the bench.

Wales v Ireland (Saturday, March 16,  2.45pm, Principality Stadium)

Liam Williams (Saracens); George North (Ospreys), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Josh Adams (Worcester); Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), Aled Davies (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Northampton), Owen Watkin (Ospreys).

Wales U20s v Ireland (Friday, March 15, 7.05pm, Zipworld Stadium)

Cai Evans (Ospreys);  Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Ospreys),  Aneurin Owen (Dragons), Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues); Sam Costelow (Leicester Tigers), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons); Rhys Davies (Ospreys), Dewi Lake (Ospreys, capt), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Ed Scragg (Dragons), Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), Ellis Thomas (Llanelli), Jac Morgan (Aberarvon/Scarlets), Iestyn Rees (Scarlets).

Replacements: Will Griffiths (Dragons), Tom Devine (Dragons), Nick English (Bristol Bears), Jac Price (Scarlets), Ioan Rhys Davies (Cardiff Blues), Dan Babos (Dragons), Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets).

Wales Women v Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm, Cardiff Arms Park)

Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Jess Kavanagh (RGC); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (Ospreys, capt), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Dragons) Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Lisa Neumann (RGC)