Dwayne Peel Says Derby Can Spark Scarlets

A quick glance at the United Rugby Championship table tells you there is work to be done for all four of the Welsh regions this weekend.

Four of the bottom six places in the table are occupied by the Welsh sides, with only the Ospreys having managed more than one victory so far this season.

So, room for improvement, you might say, as we head into a weekend where two of those teams clash in a derby on Sunday.

It’s the Ospreys against the Scarlets at the Swansea.com Stadium, a tribal old dust-up which could see the visitors leap up and overtake their neighbours if they were to win with a bonus point.

That might seem a long-shot for a team that has lost four of their five games so far, but Dwayne Peel believes a change in form could be sparked by the presence of their fiercest rivals.

“We need to start finishing off our opportunities because what we are doing at the moment is obviously costly,” says Peel.

“We haven’t won in Swansea for a while. There’s a lot at stake this week and it’s going to be a tough environment, but derbies tend to throw up different emotions and different styles of play and we are hoping the derby element can ignite us.

“They have an abrasive pack of forwards and their way of playing which is maybe different to ours. But we are under no illusions that we have to be at our best if we are going to go there and win.”

The Scarlets are set to be reinforced by the likes of Gareth Davies, Vaea Fifita, Ioan Lloyd, Joe Roberts and Steff Evans who didn’t feature in last weekend’s 54-5 loss to Leinster in Dublin.

However, there’s a doubt over Wales back row forward Taine Plumtree who is carrying a shoulder problem.

The Ospreys will have prop Gareth Thomas and centre Keiran Williams back available for the derby, but flanker Justin Tipuric will be sidelined for six to eight weeks as he requires surgery on the thumb he damaged in the 20-5 defeat to the Dragons.

Ospreys coach Toby Booth says: “Everyone knows the west Wales derby is a significant fixture.

“The boys look at it straight away as soon as the fixtures come out. Everyone knows how important it is.

“It’s a big game. With the connectivity and the proximity, if you were to ask the players which game is the most important one, they would probably say this one.

“We’ve done well in it in recent times, which is great, and we know how important it is for our supporters.”

Before Sunday’s showdown, the weekend action for the regions begins on Friday night when Cardiff host the Stormers at the Arms Park.

Cardiff are 12th at present, just a point behind the Ospreys and are likely to be boosted by the return of Josh Turnbull, their club captain.

The back rower is set to play his first match of the season after overcoming a knee injury.

Cardiff will be keen to make amends after throwing away victory late on last week at Zebre, where they eventually had to settle for a 22-22 draw.

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt says: “We were disappointed with the draw last week and felt the players deserved more. However, that’s sport and you do not always get what you deserve.

“Given the manner in which the game finished, the boys have been chomping at the bit to get back on the pitch.

“We have fond memories of facing the Stormers at the Arms Park a year ago and are hoping for another good Friday night crowd with a great atmosphere.”

The Dragons play the first of their two matches in South Africa on Saturday when they will be in Durban to tackle the Sharks.

Dai Flanagan’s team are without a number of injured forwards but have taken their head of performance Dan Baugh along for the trip, despite the fall-out from his controversial confrontation last week with referee Ben Whitehouse.

Baugh, the former Canada star, will not be used as an on-pitch water carrier, the role that landed him in hot water during the Dragons’ victory over the Ospreys at Rodney Parade last week.

“Dan is aware you can’t do what he has done and we are dealing with it in-house,” says Dragons coach Dai Flanagan.

“There is a consequence agreed by Dan and us because you can’t do that. It is clear as day my end.

“What me and Dan have spoken about we will keep between ourselves, whether there is a ban or no ban, we will deal with it ourselves.”