Coach Nigel Davies wants Scarlets improvement in Ulster

MAGNERS LEAGUE

Venue:
Ravenhill
Date:
Friday, 1 April
Kick-off:
1905 BST
Coverage:
Live on BBC TWO Wales, BBC NI & online and score updates on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Sport website
Nigel Davies
Davies is looking to get the Scarlets into the play-offs for the first time

Coach Nigel Davies hopes the Scarlets' unconvincing win over Benetton Treviso is the wake-up call his side need for their Magners League clash in Ulster.

The west Wales region stuttered to a 22-16 victory over Treviso and failed to secure a four-try bonus point.

But Davies is hoping for marked improvement in Ravenhill on Friday as they bid for a play-off spot.

"To be honest Sunday [against Treviso] wasn't a bad thing for us... it's given everyone a kick," said Davies.

"We came away with the win, but know we didn't do ourselves justice against Treviso and we've been very hard on ourselves this week, we'll have to pick up our levels by at least three notches."

Davies was particularly concerned about the Scarlets' inability to keep possession against the Italians.

"Our turnover rate ... was up to 50% [against Treviso] which is just simply not good enough. We need at least half that to be successful on Friday."

It is a crunch game in play-off terms with Scarlets occupying sixth position, but they are just five points adrift of Ulster in third.

"There is going to be a lot of key areas - the contact area is absolutely vital when you play the Irish teams and we have been reasonably good there against them this year.

"Weather conditions will play a big factor, they normally do in Ravenhill.

"And our accuracy. We are at our best when we are playing the style of rugby that we like to play - high ball in play time.

"It's a big challenge, Ulster are a good side and they have had rode their luck recently, but all we can do is focus on ourselves.

"We need to secure our own possession and then we have a game we can build.

"The contact area is always important against the Irish sides and our turnover rate has to be low because of our intent to play.

"It's great to play an open and expansive style of rugby, but we're expecting our backs to be equally efficient in the contact areas as our forwards in order to get anything out of Friday's game."

It will be a difficult brief for the Welsh region. Not only are Ulster - along with leaders Munster - the form team in the Magners with 22 points from their last six matxches, but the Scarlets have lost their last four away matches.

In fact, Scarlets have not beaten an Irish province in their last five attempts and have not won in Ireland since a successful mission to Connacht in January 2009.

However, one statistic is in the visitors' favour - Ulster have never done the league double over the Scarlets.

Ulster: A D'Arcy; A Trimble, N Spence, P Wallace, S Danielli; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best (capt), BJ Botha, J Muller, D Tuohy, R Diack, W Faloon, P Wannenburg.Replacements: A Kyriacou, P McAllister, D Fitzpatrick, T Barker, C Henry, P Marshall, I Whitten, C Gilroy.

Scarlets: Rhys Priestland; Gareth Maule, Regan King, Jon Davies, Morgan Stoddart; Stephen Jones, Tavis Knoyle; Iestyn Thomas, Matthew Rees (capt), Rhys Thomas, Lou Reed, Rob McCusker, Josh Turnbull, Johnathan Edwards, Ben Morgan.Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Rhodri Jones, Peter Edwards, Aaron Shingler, David Lyons, Martin Roberts, Daniel Evans, Scott Williams.

Referee: Graham Knox (Scotland).

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