Scarlets centre Scott Williams believes festive derbies can re-ignite season
SCOTT Williams believes the forthcoming festive derbies are the ideal fixtures to re-ignite the Scarlets’ campaign.
The West Wales side go into tomorrow’s Pro12 clash against the Blues at the Arms Park (7.05pm) having lost their last three fixtures — to Ulster in the league and a double-header against Exeter Chiefs in the Heineken Cup.
The Scarlets have been below their best in all three matches and face a demanding schedule of away fixtures that will take them to Cardiff, Swansea, Belfast and Dublin over the next four weeks.
It is a period that could make or break the region’s hopes of challenging for silverware this season.
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But Williams insists everybody at Parc y Scarlets is determined to make the festive season one to remember and one where they can cement their position in second spot in the Pro12 table.
“We have a few big games coming up and we have spoken about what we want to get out of them,” said the Wales centre.
“The Blues on Friday night is going to be massive. At the start of the season we highlight the derbies as the games we want to win, and it will be great playing them back at the Arms Park. It is an old-school rugby ground, with the fans close to the pitch and it provides the kind of atmosphere I enjoy.
“Then it is a short turnaround for the Ospreys game on Boxing Day and if you can’t get up for a Scarlets-Ospreys derby you shouldn’t be in rugby. It is the fixture you look for first.
“Hopefully we can carry on the momentum from some of the rugby we played in that second half against Exeter and get the results we want in these matches.”
Williams has been denied an opportunity to go head to head with Wales colleague Jamie Roberts tomorrow.
Roberts will be sidelined until the new year because of an arm injury picked up in the final autumn Test against the Wallabies.
The Blues will also be minus full-back Leigh Halfpenny and the suspended Lloyd Williams, although lock Bradley Davies is set to make his comeback following the concussion he suffered at the hands of All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore.
“They have struggled a bit, like us, in recent weeks; they have maybe been a bit unlucky as well,” added Williams.
“I am sure they want to try and put things right on Friday night.
“We have been a bit disappointed in our Heineken games, we haven’t started well.
“We had a bit of a wake-up call for the first 20 minutes against Exeter, but after that we played some good stuff and when we held them out for 15 phases on our tryline I felt we were going to go on and win the game.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
“It has been difficult with a lot of boys coming back from Wales and only having a couple of training sessions. We need a couple of games as a team.
“But everyone is looking forward to these matches and hopefully we can put a run of wins together.”