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Scarlets out to right wrongs

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 04, 2013

By Robert Lloyd

Scarlets coach Simon Easterby

Scarlets coach Simon Easterby

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A PATCHED-UP Scarlets side take on Pro12 leaders Ulster in Belfast this evening determined to right the wrongs of their Boxing Day shocker.

Head coach Simon Easterby has been forced into making nine changes to his starting XV in the wake of the 32-3 defeat to the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

Full-back Liam Williams (concussion), flanker Aaron Shingler (groin), South African lock George Earle (knee), prop Samson Lee (shoulder) and hooker Matthew Rees (neck strain) are among those ruled out, while Ken Owens, Joe Snyman and Morgan Stoddart also remain sidelined.

Upsetting the runaway league leaders at their Ravenhill fortress is a massive test for Easterby's side, but the former Ireland international believes his men are up to the job.

"There's a strong team ethic in our squad and with the quality and experience we have in our ranks, regardless of our injury list, there's plenty of intent to put things right," he said. "It's been a challenging and intense period of rugby for us. We're in a very tough Heineken Cup group and we've had a number of away games against very good opposition including two big Welsh derbies.

"We've had a bit of a break since the Ospreys game which has given us a bit of time to reflect. Last year we had something like 29 weeks back to back before we had a week off so this has been a good mini-break for us.

"Hopefully the players have used that time productively."

No. 8 Rob McCusker makes his first start since October having escaped a ban following his red card against the Ospreys, although Wales centre Jonathan Davies retains the captaincy.

There are recalls for centre Gareth Maule, scrum-half Tavis Knoyle and full-back Dan Newton, while Emyr Phillips starts at hooker in the absence of Wales internationals Rees and Owens.

The Scarlets haven't won at Ravenhill since September 2008, while Ulster have only lost one league game at their home ground since October 2011.

Mark Anscombe has recalled Springbok Ruan Pienaar, Kiwi back-rower Nick Williams and Ireland internationals Andrew Trimble and Dan Tuohy among eight changes to the below-strength side beaten by Munster last time out.

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