Tom Vickers’ Scarlets v Northampton Saints preview

Will Hooley pulled the strings against Newcastle and the young fly-half has another chance to shine at Scarlets (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Will Hooley pulled the strings against Newcastle and the young fly-half has another chance to shine at Scarlets (picture: Sharon Lucey)
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Fixture: Scarlets v Northampton Saints (LV= Cup game two)

Date/kick-off time: Friday, November 7, 7.30pm

Venue: Parc y Scarlets

Weather forecast: 8C, chance of rain

Scarlets: S Evans; Williams, Hughes, Owen, Climo; S Shingler, Hardy; John, Myhill, Edwards; S Jones, Earle (c); McCusker, J Davies, Pitman.

Replacements: Elias, W Jones, Adriaanse, Day, Bennett, R Davies, Lewis, Warren.

Saints: Wilson; Packman, Stephenson, Waldouck, Collins; Hooley, Hodgson; E Waller, McMillan, Mercey; Woolford, C Day; Dowson (c), Nutley, Fisher.

Replacements: Williams, A Waller, Ma’afu, Clark, Harrison, L Dickson, Mallinder, Foden.

Outs: Scarlets: G Davies (knee), Lloyd (knee), Owens (neck), King (hamstring), Warren (knee), Rawlins (hamstring), Kelly (forearm), Phillips (cheekbone), Evans (hand), Robinson, R Evans, Barclay, A Shingler, Snyman, Tagicakibau, A Davies (all rested), L Williams, Lee, Ball, R Jones, Priestland (all international duty)

Saints: Corbisiero (shoulder), Myler, G Pisi (both hamstring), Dickinson (neck), Burrell (hand), Fotuali’i, K Pisi, Hartley, Lawes, Wood, North (all international duty).

Most recent meeting: March 11, 2012: Saints 27 Scarlets 12

Tom’s preview: For top division footballers in England, it is said the ultimate test of character comes in the form of a trip to Stoke City on a wet Tuesday night.

It’s partly to do with the passionate atmosphere in the Potteries, partly to do with the perceived lack of glamour, and predominantly due to the physical nature of the home team.

When you are thinking of a rugby equivalent, a trip to Llanelli on what is forecast to be an inclement Friday night is not too far off.

But that is what lies in wait for Saints this week.

Their squad, shorn of the likes of Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood and George North, will be put under pressure at Parc y Scarlets.

And it will be the ultimate test of character for the youthful crop named to take on Scarlets.

Last week, Jim Mallinder’s men (or in many cases, boys), produced a slick showing to see off Newcastle at Franklin’s Gardens.

It was a display bursting with energy, enthusiasm and class as the Falcons were flayed 37-23.

But Saints will be under no illusions that the second step on the road to a desired home final appearance will be much more precarious.

Scarlets may be resting players - and coaching staff! - but those who come in will have a point to prove.

And that provides a dangerous proposition for Saints.

Having said that, they have shown they have the steel to get the job done before.

Last season, they battled a hail storm in Newport to slay the Dragons.

It wasn’t pretty, but the away side’s power game came to the fore in torrid conditions.

It is right to expect a repeat on Friday night - and if it happens, it will be another tick in the box for this talented young group.

Tom’s prediction: Scarlets 16 Saints 25