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Wales Pair To Go Head-To-Head In Six Nations Shoot-Out

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By Simon Thomas

Wales’ World Cup scrum-halves Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams will go head-to-head in a mouth-watering individual battle at the Arms Park on Saturday when Cardiff host the Scarlets.

They are likely to be the frontrunners once again for the No 9 jersey in the Six Nations, so it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top in this derby clash.

It will be a real contrast in styles, with Davies bringing physicality, a forceful running threat and try-scenting support lines, while Williams is such a skillful operator, delivering the footwork and silky handling of a former basketball player.

Giving his thoughts on his opposite number, Scarlets skipper Davies said: “I have played against Tomos loads of times now and I’ve been with him in the Welsh camp for many years, so we know each other pretty well.

“He’s a fantastic player. I have always rated him. I think he’s one of the best nines around at the moment.
“So it’s going to be a tough challenge for me to try and keep an eye on him.”

The Scarlets head for the Arms Park off the back of a painful 31-9 URC defeat to the Ospreys in last Sunday’s west Wales derby.

“It’s been a tough few days to be honest,” said Davies.

“It was a very disappointing result. Basically we just weren’t good enough. We lost probably every part of the game. We just weren’t there physically or mentally.

“We have had a harsh review and a lot of harsh learnings. The boys have been honest at where we can be better.

“Losing the derby in that style, it was difficult. We have got to take it on the chin and we’ve got to get better.”

He added: “We know it’s going to be a tough game against Cardiff. They are off the back of a good win against the Stormers.

“I enjoy playing at the Arms Park. It’s a cool stadium and always a great atmosphere up there. Hopefully we can turn up as a team and put a good performance in.”

Cardiff’s Williams, who has shaken off the calf problem which kept him out of the 31-24 victory over the DHL Stormers, said: “You always want to beat the boys you are in the Wales camp with.

“We are looking forward to it, especially Saturday afternoon. It doesn’t get much better than that. We haven’t played on a Saturday afternoon for a long time. I can’t wait for it.

“The Scarlets took a tough defeat in a derby last weekend, so they will be looking to bounce back and it will be a good challenge for us. They will be raring to go. We need to stand up to that challenge. It’s a big derby and those are the games you want to win.

“It’s always a good game because the Scarlets play a good brand of rugby. They like to throw the ball about a bit and have a lot of threats across the park, while Matt Sherratt has given us a licence to express ourselves and try and play.”

Wales wing Josh Adams makes his first start of the season for Carduiff after recovering from a shoulder injury, while the Scarlets welcome back fit-again flanker Dan Davis.

Benetton Rugby v Ospreys

Saturday, 7.35pm

Both sides will be in buoyant mood with Benetton having won away in Edinburgh last weekend and the Ospreys recording a sizeable victory over arch rivals the Scarlets.

South African Marnus Van Der Merwe, on loan from the Toyota Cheetahs, makes his first start at hooker for the Ospreys, who also give opportunities to youngsters Tristan Davies and Luke Davies at blindside and scrum half respectively, while Welsh international fly-half Owen Williams returns from injury on the bench.

For Benetton, Malakai Fekitoa and last week’s two-try hero Marco Zanon will form a potent centre pairing.

Emirates Lions v Dragons RFC

Saturday, 3.05 pm

Will Reed has been passed fit to start at No 10 for the Dragons in Johannesburg after failing a HIA during last weekend’s heavy defeat to the Sharks.

That’s welcome news for the Men of Gwent, with fellow fly-half options Cai Evans and Angus O’Brien both sidelined.

Steff Hughes comes in to skipper the side from the centre amid seven changes from the 69-14 loss in Durban, with head coach Dai Flanagan calling for a more collective approach and more consistency in style of play.

The Lions have named an unchanged 23 following their 61-19 dismantling of Zebre last weekend.

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