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Owens returns to lead Scarlets

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made wholesale changes to the side that secured victory over Cardiff Blues ahead of Friday night’s Guinness PRO12 clash against Ulster at Parc y Scarlets.

A gruelling schedule, with three games in eleven days, has taken its toll on the Scarlets with Pivac having to make eleven changes (two positional) to the side that beat Cardiff Blues on New Year’s Day.

Having sat out the New Year’s Day clash captain Ken Owens makes a return to lead the side and is joined in the front row by Rob Evans and Werner Kruger. Lewis Rawlins moves to the blindside flank making way for Tom Price to partner Jake Ball in the second row. James Davies returns to action from suspension with John Barclay remaining at number 8.

A new halfback pairing of Gareth Davies and Dan Jones sees the 20 year-old fly half make his first start of the season in the Guinness PRO12.  Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes are reunited in the midfield. Liam Williams makes a return to the side on the wing with Johnny Mcnicholl given the nod at fullback. Steff Evans, who was named man of the match on Sunday, retains his place on the wing.

Looking ahead to the all-important clash Pivac said; “Ulster are a good side. We expect a big game. If you look at the points table – ourselves, Glasgow and Ulster are probably at the moment fighting it out for the fourth position, unless there’s a change in form.

“It’s a massive game in the context of that push for top four; both teams will want a result from this one definitely.

“Our next two games in the PRO12 are Ulster and Glasgow, teams sitting in fourth, fifth and sixth all within a couple of points of each other. This game Friday is a big match and so is the Glasgow one in terms of our campaign. The home games are vital and Friday is the first focus.”

Nicky Thomas will make his Guinness Pro12 debut for the Scarlets is he comes off the replacements bench whilst scrum half Aled Davies will make his 100thregional appearance on Friday evening.

Scarlets team to take on Ulster at Parc y Scarlets, Friday 6th January, kick-off 7.35pm;

15 Johnny Mcnicholl, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens ©, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Tom Price, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 7 James Davies, 8 John Barclay

Replacements; Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Nicky Thomas, Joshua Macleod, Will Boyde, Aled Davies, Aled Thomas, Steff Hughes

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