Davies back to help lift Llanelli

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Phil Davies starts picking up the pieces of his disrupted season this afternoon intent on giving Llanelli, the club in a crisis, a massive lift. Davies, whose 44 caps are a Welsh record for a forward, has not played since 12 November because of a back injury.

But the lock resumes this afternoon, as captain for the day, in the Heineken League match against Abertillery at Stradey declaring: "I hope I can play a part in getting Llanelli back on track."

The Scarlets have not only lost their last three matches, but were also docked two points for running an oversized squad.

This adds up to the 1993 double champions finding themselves in a precarious ninth position in the First Division, only a few points clear of the relegation places.

"The break has actually been good for me. I feel really fresh, but right now I am not even thinking about international rugby. All I want to do is concentrate on enjoying the game and taking things from there," the 31-year-old Davies said.

"We have had a few problems at Stradey, but if we can put a decent run of results together that will give everyone connected with the club a huge boost. I have told them I am available for all three matches in the next eight days, against Abertillery, London Welsh and Treorchy, and I can't wait to get back into the swing of things."

Rupert Moon, Llanelli's captain, is still absent with a wrist injury for the match with the club who can count Swansea, the defending champions, and Neath among their recent victims.

Swansea have been having a wretched time since they were thrashed by South Africa and if they are to meet the reduced target of their captain, Tony Clement - finishing in the top three - then they must win at Treorchy.

On the other hand, the First Division newcomers, who started the season by ruffling a few feathers, are also in urgent need of success themselves after three consecutive defeats, a depressing sequence they hope to halt on an afternoon when the only threematches scheduled all involve mid-table issues.

Bridgend are the highest-placed side in action and they will be delighted if they can go into the new year having consolidated third place courtesy of a victory at Dunvant.

Bridgend are, however, five points off the pace even though second-placed Pontypridd kept their league race alive thanks to a battling 23-15 victory in the fog at the Arms Park on Thursday night, thus reducing Cardiff's advantage over them to a couple ofpoints.