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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Season preview: Llanelli Scarlets
By Sean Davies

Llanelli have been the leading lights in Welsh rugby in recent seasons and - with a minimum of tinkering at Stradey Park over the summer - they look like continuing to carry the flag in the first year of the regional era.

SCARLETS PREDICTIONS
Emyr Lewis has returned to Stradey Park
Celtic League: 3rd
Celtic Cup: 1st round exit
Heineken Cup: Semi-final exit
The side have had their share of disappointments in Europe, last season's tame quarter-final loss to Perpignan adding another chapter, but the squad is young and eager enough to have another determined crack at the Heineken trophy.

Gareth Jenkins, the ultimate motivator, still has the dressing room behind him and knows exactly what he can ask of his players, while the summer signing of Mark Taylor adds experience and depth to the back line.

The squad will be badly hit by World Cup-calls, though, and a weakened side could be vulnerable to a shock first-round Celtic Cup exit against the Dragons.

Momentum will build in the league campaign after a slow start and they should be challenging for honours by the end of the season.

Dale Burn
One to watch: Dale Burn
Their major efforts will be reserved for the Heineken Cup, though, and another rollercoaster ride could be in store.

The Scarlets should breeze through a group including Agen, Northampton and Borders, and this time they would hope to advance from a home quarter-final.

More European heartache could be in store in a predicted semi-final against Wasps, though.

With the Scarlets a point ahead going into injury time, an unlikely 80-yard Rob Howley drop-goal is falling short when it hits the good eye off a Llanelli fan running onto the pitch to celebrate victory - and deflects agonisingly over the uprights.


Full-backs: Barry Davies, Garan Evans, Lee Byrne (development contract)
Three-quarters: Mark Jones, Matthew Watkins, Leigh Davies, Mark Taylor, Salesi Finau, Tal Selley
Fly-halves: Stephen Jones, Gareth Bowen
Scrum-halves: Dwayne Peel, Mike Phillips, Dale Burn
Props: John Davies, Iestyn Thomas, Martyn Madden, Phil John
Hookers: Robin McBryde, Aled Gravell
Locks: Chris Wyatt, Vernon Cooper, Adam Jones, James Griffiths, Bryn Griffiths (development contract)
Back rows: Dafydd Jones, Dave Hodges, Scott Quinnell, Simon Easterby, Emyr Lewis, Gareth Williams (development contract)

Supplementary list to provide cover during World Cup includes:
Rhys Williams, Ceirion Thomas, Gareth Wright, David Maddox, Ian Boobyer, Gavin Evans, Adam Yelland

Transfer stories
Captain: Leigh Davies
Coach: Gareth Jenkins
Assistant coaches: Nigel Davies, Paul Moriarty
Team colours: Scarlet and white
Chief Executive: Stuart Gallacher
Grounds: Stradey Park (Llanelli), Racecourse (Wrexham)




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SEE ALSO
Heineken Cup 2003/4
26 Nov 02  |  European Club
Welsh rugby's new dawn
31 Aug 03  |  Welsh



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