Friday 22 November 2019

Davies determined to deny Irish

Andrew Baldock

Scarlets boss Nigel Davies openly admits his admiration for the Welsh team's Heineken Cup rivals London Irish. But he says the Scarlets will do everything in their power today to deliver a huge setback to Irish's quarter-final hopes.

The Exiles arrive at Parc-y-Scarlets knowing victory would set up a winner-takes-all Pool 6 showdown with Cup holders Leinster at Twickenham next Saturday. They have already lost, though, to the Llanelli-based side this season, beaten 27-25 in a Madejski Stadium thriller three months ago.

"It should be a good game. Both sides traditionally look to play an expansive brand of rugby," said former Wales centre Davies. "I've got a lot of admiration for what they are doing at London Irish -- they are a quality outfit. With both sides knowing it is a must-win match, it should make for a great game of rugby, just like the first game was."

The Scarlets will be without their out-half talisman Stephen Jones, who is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered against Newport Gwent Dragons on New Year's Eve.

Jones' fellow Wales international -- hooker Matthew Rees -- is also sidelined, but both are expected to be fit ahead of the Six Nations opener against England on February 6.

"This is a key game in our group now," added Davies. "It's very important to both teams, and realistically we are still in there with a shout of finishing in second spot if we win on Sunday."

Irish include their England elite squad trio of Delon Armitage, Steffon Armitage and Paul Hodgson, with Samoans Elvis Seveali'i and Seilala Mapusua forging a powerful midfield combination.

In Pool 5, favourites Toulouse should be too strong at home against a Harlequins side already out of quarter-final contention after four successive defeats.

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