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Scarlets v Ulster - RaboDirect PRO12 match preview
Ulster will be aiming to maintain their perfect start to the RaboDirect PRO12 against the second-placed Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets stadium.
The home side welcome back three of their squad from international. Deacon Manu (Fiji), Tomas Vallejos (Argentina) and Kirby Myhill (Wales) are available and on the Scarlets' bench.
A big win over Munster last week has kept competition tight between the top six and the Scarlets know how important a home win will be to their ambitions for a top four play-off place later in the season.
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has made nine changes for the top-of-the-table clash.
Captain Johann Muller has returned from a thumb injury to captain the side in one of five changes to the pack, while Rory Best is fit enough to be named on the bench after overcoming neck problems.
After their exertions in recent weeks, Anscombe has decided to rest back row players Nick Williams and Chris Henry, in addition to backline stars Ruan Pienaar, Paddy Wallace and Jared Payne. Stephen Ferris, Lewis Stevenson and Declan Fitzpatrick are all sidelined through injury.
Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Johnathan Edwards (c), 6 George Earle, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Craig Price, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Nick Reynolds.
Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson , 7 Robbie Diack, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Nigel McComb, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Tommy Bowe.
What they said...
Scarlets attack coach Mark Jones
"They have threats all over the park, so we know we'll have to be at the top of our game.
"It's going to be a real challenge for us, one we're looking forward to and a great game of rugby is in prospect if the conditions allow."
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Dragons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|18:45||Ulster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 21st February|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Dragons 25 - 11 Zebre|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Ospreys 31 - 20 Ulster|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 18 Munster|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com