The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup begins on Friday and despite a late change in format, there are some exciting fixtures to savour in the inaugural competition.
Four South African clubs had been due to form part of a 16-team format but are unable to travel to the UK and Ireland due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead there will be dual tournaments with no cross-hemisphere fixtures and the ‘northern’ competition gets under way on Friday as Edinburgh host Zebre while Ulster take on Connacht at the Kingspan Stadium.
There are three matches on Saturday with Benetton welcoming Glasgow Warriors to Treviso while Ospreys and Cardiff Blues clash in Swansea before a repeat of the Guinness PRO14 final when Leinster and Munster collide at the RDS Arena.
Dragons and Scarlets meet at Rodney Parade on Sunday to close out the opening round.
Three innovative law variations have also been approved by World Rugby for use in the Rainbow Cup – red card replacements, captain’s challenge and goal-line drop-outs.
Dragons vs Scarlets – Match Preview:
The final match of the opening weekend sees the Dragons and Scarlets meet for the second time this year, having gone up against each other on New Year’s Day when Scarlets came out on top 20-3 at Parc y Scarlets.
Two second-half tries from number eight Sione Kalamafoni and replacement outside-half Sam Costelow were enough to get Glenn Delaney's side over the line.
Dan Jones and Costelow also kicked 10 points between them, while all the Dragons could muster was three points from the boot of Josh Lewis.
Scarlets were 41-20 winners on their last trip to Rodney Parade in August, while Dragons have lost their last five PRO14 matches at this venue.
Rodney Parade, Newport, 1pm
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU, 20th competition game) Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens, Gareth Newman (both WRU) TMO: Dan Jones (WRU)
Overall Guinness PRO14 head to head record:
Played 35, Dragons won 7, Scarlets won 28.
Did you know?
- Dragons only defeat in their last four Guinness PRO14 matches was 22-26 against Ulster at Principality Stadium on 13 March. • Dragons have lost their last five home games at Rodney Parade in the PRO14.
- Scarlets only defeat in their last four Guinness PRO14 matches was 10-28 away at Munster on 12 March.
- Scarlets have won three of their last four away trips to fellow Welsh regions.
- The Llanelli based Scarlets have won their last two fixtures against Dragons since their 20-22 reversal at Rodney Parade in December 2019.
- That victory ended a four game Scarlets losing run in all tournaments in Newport.