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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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RaboDirect PRO12 Table
|Saturday 6th September|
|TBC||Munster vs Edinburgh|
|TBC||Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Glasgow vs Leinster|
|TBC||Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Ulster|
|TBC||Zebre vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 13th September|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Munster|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Connacht|
|TBC||Ulster vs Zebre|
|TBC||Leinster vs Scarlets|
|TBC||Cardiff Blues vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 20th September|
|TBC||Cardiff Blues vs Ulster|
|TBC||Zebre vs Munster|
|TBC||Ospreys vs Edinburgh|
|TBC||Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Connacht vs Leinster|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow|
|Saturday 27th September|
|TBC||Leinster vs Cardiff Blues|
|TBC||Munster vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Scarlets|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Ulster|
|TBC||Glasgow vs Connacht|
|Saturday 4th October|
|TBC||Leinster vs Munster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com