Scarlets welcome back Wales internationals for Benetton test

Rob LloydFeatured

Wales international Gareth Davies skippers a much-changed Scarlets side for the round 12 BKT United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton Rugby at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (15:00; S4C & Viaplay).

Scrum-half Davies is one of six players returning from Six Nations duty with Wales.

One of those, Ioan Lloyd, slots in at full-back in a new-look back three that contains Tom Rogers, who has recovered from the chest injury that ruled him out of the Championship, and speedster Tomi Lewis.

There is an all-international midfield of British & Irish Lion Jonathan Davies and Johnny Williams. Joe Roberts is ruled out with a knee issue.

Sam Costelow will wear the No. 10 jersey for only the third time this season and partners Gareth Davies at half-back.

Up front, Kemsley Mathias and Harri O’Connor, who both came off the bench against Italy in Cardiff last Saturday, are recalled and pack down alongside hooker Shaun Evans. The hamstring injury picked up by Ryan Elias during the Six Nations keeps the Wales hooker sidelined.

Alex Craig partners Sam Lousi at lock, while in the back row, Teddy Leatherbarrow has recovered from his calf problem to slot in at blindside. Dan Davis and Vaea Fifita make up the rest of the breakaway. Recent signing Jarrod Taylor is still out with the hamstring injury he picked up on his debut against Munster. 

On the bench, Carwyn Tuipulotu is recalled to the match-day 23, while Kieran Hardy will make his 99th Scarlets appearance if he enters the fray.

Head coach Dwayne Peel said: “We have five home games left out of seven this season. There are plenty of points to be played for. The boys are excited about this weekend, they are positive and looking forward to firing some shots.

“It is important we go out and play with a bit of style and how we know we can play. The fans want to see us trying to express ourselves and that is definitely what we want to do.”

Scarlets team to play Benetton at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday, March 21 (15:00)

15 Ioan Lloyd; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Tomi Lewis; 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies (capt); Kemsley Mathias, 2 Shaun Evans, 3 Harri O’Connor, 4 Alex Craig, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Teddy Leatherbarrow, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Vaea Fifita.

Reps: 16 Eduan Swart, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Eddie James, 23 Steff Evans

Players unavailable because of injury

Joe Roberts, Ryan Elias, Jarrod Taylor, Josh Macleod, Taine Plumtree, Ken Owens, Isaac Young, Ed Scragg.