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RaboDirect PRO12 match preview: Zebre v Scarlets
The Scarlets welcome back several Wales internationals for Friday's PRO12 clash with Zebre at Stadio XXV Aprile in Parma.
Zebre have lost all 23 matches they have played this season in all competitions, eight by seven points or less.
The Scarlets have lost their last five away games in all tournaments since beating Cardiff Blues 9-6 at the Arms Park in the PRO12 on December 21.
Scarlets won 22-13 when the two sides met in round eight of this season's PRO12.
Liam Williams moves to the wing as Gareth Owen returns from injury to take up the full-back spot after an impressive run of games earlier this year.
Aaron Shingler starts in the back row alongside experienced colleagues Johnathan Edwards and captain Rob McCusker while Matthew Rees starts at hooker with another set of experienced Scarlets campaigners in the front row - props Phil John and Deacon Manu.
Wales centre Scott Williams is on the bench for some added strike power and Aled Davies get the number nine jersey to start with Owen Williams at fly-half and impressive scrum-half talent Rhodri Williams on the bench.
Zebre: 15 Alberto Bennettin, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Giovanbattista Venditti, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Paolo Buso, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Emiliano Caffini, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 David Ryan, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Michael Van Vuuren, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Roberto Quartaroli.
Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (c) 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Synman, 4 George Earle, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Scott Williams.
What they said...
Scarlets boss Simon Easterby
"It's been a very positive week back in full training at Parc y Scarlets, with the boost of the international players coming back energised by their victory in the Six Nations and we are now clearly focused as a group on these next five games which we have to win to retain our control on a top four finish," said Easterby.
"During the international window, the players who remained at Parc y Scarlets shown real commitment and we have kept us in a good position. We have to respect all the teams we play now and that includes how we approach our challenge against Zebre on Friday night.
"Zebre may have lost a lot of games this year but have come very close to teams at nearly every point - so we have to be really focused on our job in hand as players and as coaches.
"They will be very competitive and we will not be going out there underestimating what we need to do to get a result."
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Friday 21st November|
|19:30||Dragons vs Munster|
|19:35||Ulster vs Ospreys|
|19:35||Connacht vs Zebre|
|19:35||Scarlets vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|14:30||Treviso vs Leinster|
|16:00||Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 28th November|
|19:35||Cardiff Blues vs Benetton Treviso|
|19:35||Munster vs Ulster|
|Saturday 29th November|
|15:00||Zebre vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Leinster vs Ospreys|
|19:30||Connacht vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 30th November|
|16:00||Glasgow vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Friday 19th December|
|19:35||Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Benetton Treviso|
|19:35||Leinster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 20th December|
|14:40||Glasgow vs Munster|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Ulster|
|Sunday 21st December|
|16:00||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Zebre|
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|Saturday 27th December|
|TBC||Ulster vs Connacht|
|14:40||Glasgow vs Edinburgh|
|16:00||Zebre vs Benetton Treviso|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 1st November|
|Ulster 23 - 6 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Scarlets 28 - 13 Zebre|
|Cardiff Blues 24 - 28 Munster|
|Friday 31st October|
|Ospreys 26 - 11 Connacht|
|Glasgow 17 - 9 Benetton Treviso|
|Leinster 33 - 8 Edinburgh|
|Sunday 12th October|
|Ospreys 26 - 15 Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 11th October|
|Ulster 29 - 9 Glasgow|
|Zebre 3 - 20 Leinster|
|Edinburgh 24 - 10 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Friday 10th October|
|Munster 17 - 6 Scarlets|
|Benetton Treviso 6 - 9 Connacht|
|Sunday 5th October|
|Scarlets 26 - 13 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Benetton Treviso 23 - 40 Glasgow|
|Saturday 4th October|
|Leinster 23 - 34 Munster|
|Friday 3rd October|
|Ulster 30 - 0 Edinburgh|
|Zebre 14 - 15 Ospreys|
|Connacht 24 - 24 Cardiff Blues|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com