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The eagerly awaited Welsh derby in the West sees top of the table Scarlets host their near rivals the Ospreys as the festive derby season kicks off in front of a sell-out crowd.

Leading the Guinness PRO12, the Scarlets will be fiercely defending their strong league form this season with only one loss in the last 22 home fixtures in the PRO12 and as victors in the last encounter between the two sides with a 22-10 victory in the equivalent fixture at Parc y Scarlets last season.

The Ospreys come to the derby having won their last three PRO12 encounters and on the back of strong European Champions Cup form.

And there’s an all-star line up in the two Welsh pro teams at an afternoon of Welsh derby action sure to excite thousands of Welsh rugby supporters.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac picks a strong side for the Boxing Day derby clash against Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets. Captain Ken Owens, John Barclay and Aaron Shingler make a return for the big derby clash with Owens to lead the side looking for a ninth victory in the Guinness PRO12.

Aled Davies has been named at scrum half in the only change to the backline from the side that narrowly lost to Glasgow Warriors in last week’s European Rugby Champions Cup clash with Gareth Davies moving to the replacements bench. Four changes to the pack see Owens, Shingler and Barclay replace Emyr Phillips, Maselino Paulino and Jack Condy with Lewis Rawlins moving from the back to second row.

Speaking earlier this week Pivac said: “This is a very different proposition for us and a game that we’re all looking forward to.  The Ospreys have been playing very well and playing some good rugby. They’re going to be a big threat to us, they have some class players. What we won’t be doing, and haven’t done in our preparation, is take for granted the league standings

“They had a slow start in the league campaign but they’re coming good. There’s a long way to go in this competition and some good sides will miss out on the play-off spots. We’re prepared for a dog fight come the end of the season but we want to, give ourselves the best opportunity to push for the play off positions come the end of the season.”

Scarlets team to take on Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday 26thDecember, kick-off 2.05pm; 15 Michael Collins, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Aled Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens [c], 4 Jake Ball, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 John Barclay, 8 Morgan Allen

Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Phil John, Rhodri Jones, George Earle, Jack Condy, Gareth Davies, Steve Shingler, Regan King

 

The Ospreys team to play the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday 26th December 2015, KO 2.05pm is as follows: The Ospreys team to play the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday 26th December 2015, KO 2.05pm (Local), is as follows: 15 Dan Evans; 14 Hanno Dirksen;13 Ben John; 12 Josh Matavesi; 11 Eli Walker; 10 Dan Biggar; 9 Tom Habberfield; 1 Paul James; 2 Scott Baldwin; 3 Dmitri Arhip; 4 Lloyd Ashley; 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Capt); 6 Dan Lydiate; 7 Justin Tipuric; 8 James King

Replacements: 16 Sam Parry; 17 Nicky Smith; 18 Aaron Jarvis; 19 Rory Thornton; 20 Dan Baker; 21 Olly Cracknell; 22 Martin Roberts; 23 Sam Davies

Ben John makes his 50th Ospreys appearance.

Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, said: “We’re in the middle of a busy period with big games coming thick and fast, but that is something you have to thrive on, as a coach, player or supporter.

“Europe has gone well for us up to this point and it’s fantastic that with two games remaining we are in a good place as far as potential progress is concerned, but it’s important that we park that up for now and focus all our efforts on the PRO12 and the big job we have on our hands to climb the table.

“Everybody knows that Boxing Day will be a big occasion with a full house, with all the rivalry and atmosphere that goes with a derby match and that’s fantastic for the supporters but we can’t get caught up in all that. We have to be professional in everything we do.

“We know how important this match is but it’s not going to define our season one way or the other. If we win this and then lose the next two against the Dragons and Leinster then the win won’t mean anything in the bigger scheme of things so we have to ensure that we are switched on throughout this period and do what we’ve got to do.

“There’s been a lot of talk recently about being number one in Wales but that’s not a motivation for us, we want to win every game we play, we want to compete at the highest level, week in, week out, against Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Italian, English or French opposition. We aren’t just looking next door.

“We’ll have to be spot on in our preparation, ignore what goes on around us on Saturday, be focused and make sure we are at our best. We know that the Scarlets will come out fired up for it with a big crowd behind them, but there’ll be plenty of Ospreys supporters there to help us continue building our recent momentum.”a