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GUINNESS PRO12 SEMI-FINAL: Friday, May 19

LEINSTER (2nd) v SCARLETS (3rd), the RDS, 7.45pm (live TG4/Sky Sports 1 HD/BBC 2 Wales/RTE 2fm)

Team News: Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has recalled a number of players that missed out on the round 22 trip to Ulster and a few others that were out through injury have also returned to the matchday squad.

Joey Carbery is selected at full-back with Adam Byrne starting on the right wing and captain Isa Nacewa on the left for his 170th cap. Robbie Henshaw has recovered from injury to take his place in the centre with Garry Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.

Luke McGrath, winning his 75th cap, and Jonathan Sexton are the half-back combination for the last-four clash between the second and third-placed teams with a place in the GUINNESS PRO12 final on Saturday week at the Aviva Stadium at stake.

Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong will feature at loosehead and tighthead prop with James Tracy at hooker. Ross Molony starts in the second row alongside Hayden Triggs who is set for his final appearance at the RDS before he retires at the end of the season.

Finally, in the back row, Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier will line out on the flanks with fellow Ireland international Jack Conan packing down at number 8.

Cullen had originally gone with a six-two split on the bench with two back rowers in his selection, but a tight calf has ruled out Sean O'Brien with Ross Byrne added to the matchday selection. Zane Kirchner is poised to come off the bench for his final run-out at the RDS before his move to the Newport Gwent Dragons.

Leinster v Scarlets semi-final tickets are still on sale at leinsterrugby.ie or on Friday evening from 6.15pm at the Anglesea Road ticket office - click here.



Meanwhile, Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac welcomes back flanker James Davies who has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered in the Judgement Day clash with the Newport Gwent Dragons last month.

Wales internationals Jake Ball and Ken Owens are not available for the semi-final due to shoulder and ankle injuries respectively, but Scotland international John Barclay returns from injury to captain the Scarlets in Owens' absence.

Carmarthen-born hooker Ryan Elias, who was last week named in Wales' summer tour squad, joins international props Rob Evans and Samson Lee in the front row. Lewis Rawlins links up with Tadhg Beirne, who is making a return to his native province, in the second row, while Aaron Shingler joins Davies and Barclay in the back row.

The back-line remains unchanged from the 40-17 round 22 win over the Ospreys, with Rhys Patchell at the helm at out-half and international scrum half Gareth Davies by his side.

Steffan Evans, the Championship's top try scorer with 11 tries, Liam Williams and Johnny Mcnicholl add strength and firepower in the back-three, while internationals Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies pair up in midfield.

LEINSTER: Joey Carbery; Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (capt); Jonathan Sexton, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, Hayden Triggs, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Dan Leavy, Jamison Gibson Park, Ross Byrne, Zane Kirchner.

SCARLETS: Johnny Mcnicholl; Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Steffan Evans; Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay (capt).

Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, DTH van der Merwe.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
Television Match Official: Alan Falzone (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/8; Draw: 22/1; Scarlets to win: 6/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Josh van der Flier (Leinster) - "There have been plenty of positives this season but all the hard work throughout means very little unless we can finish the season with two wins. It's a harsh barometer in some ways but having set our sights on a top-two PRO12 finish, it's now on us to set new targets and goals, and number 1 is a performance on Friday.

"It hasn't exactly gone our own way in the build-up and that has us on our guard. The Ulster match in Ravenhill was particularly disappointing. We didn't perform at our best and Ulster played well. Therein lies the problem - it's a simple game at times!

"Of course, it would have been ideal to go into the semi-finals with a win, but in a strange way a loss can focus the mind and give everyone involved a reality check.

"Scarlets is no easy fixture. They have had a really good run in the last few weeks. They are a well-coached team under Wayne Pivac with a lot of international experience and three Lions in their ranks.

"They challenge hard at the breakdown so it will undoubtedly be a bit of a battle at the ruck. We played them during the autumn Test window and again in the Six Nations, so both teams were without their internationals.

"They won comfortably at home, we did likewise in the RDS, but again with personnel likely to be so different on Friday nothing can be taken from previous results. But being at home in the RDS is a massive boost and the crowd will have a big impact on the game, as they always seem to."

Wayne Pivac (Scarlets) - "It is a big task but it's one we're relishing having. We haven't been in this position since this group of coaches, and players, have been together. It's a great challenge and Leinster are a really good side.

"They're a very strong side defensively, they make it very difficult for attacks. They're scoring a lot of tries themselves at the moment and it makes them a pretty complete package.

"It will be a big, big challenge for us but it's also a great opportunity. That's what the hard work all season has been done for. We're not far off having our top side available, we're going in there with some confidence, not over confident, but confidence that we deserve to be there and we're going to enjoy the occasion."







Top Scorers - 2016/17 GUINNESS PRO12: Leinster - Points: Isa Nacewa 85; Tries: Joey Carbery, Rory O'Loughlin 8 each; Scarlets - Points: Rhys Patchell 127; Tries: Steffan Evans 11

2016/17 TEAM FORM: Leinster - Played 22, Won 18, Lost 4, 85 Points; W 20-8 v Benetton Treviso (home), L 33-25 v Glasgow Warriors (away), W 33-20 v Edinburgh (away), W 31-19 v Ospreys (home), W 16-13 v Cardiff Blues (away), W 25-14 v Munster (home), W 24-13 v Connacht (home), W 33-10 v Zebre (away), L 38-29 v Scarlets (away), W 28-15 v Newport Gwent Dragons (home), L 29-17 v Munster (away), W 22-7 v Ulster (home), W 70-6 v Zebre (home), W 40-14 v Benetton Treviso (away), W 39-10 v Edinburgh (home), W 54-22 v Newport Gwent Dragons (away), W 45-9 v Scarlets (home), W 22-21 v Cardiff Blues (home), W 20-18 v Ospreys (away), W 37-24 v Connacht (away), W 31-30 v Glasgow Warriors (home), L 17-13 v Ulster (away); Scarlets - Played 22, Won 17, Lost 5, 77 Points; L 23-13 v Munster (home), L 20-9 v Edinburgh (away), L 19-8 v Ulster (away), W 17-8 v Connacht (home), W 22-6 v Benetton Treviso (away), W 31-27 v Newport Gwent Dragons (home), W 26-15 v Cardiff Blues (away), W 27-3 v Glasgow Warriors (home), W 38-29 v Leinster (home), W 31-24 v Zebre (away), L 19-9 v Ospreys (away), W 15-10 v Cardiff Blues (home), W 16-13 v Ulster (home), W 26-14 v Glasgow Warriors (away), W 42-7 v Zebre (home), W 30-21 v Munster (away), L 45-9 v Leinster (away), W 26-10 v Edinburgh (home), W 51-5 v Benetton Treviso (home), W 21-16 v Newport Gwent Dragons (away), W 30-8 v Connacht (away), W 40-17 v Ospreys (home)

RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:

Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Leinster 42 Scarlets 12, the RDS
Sunday, March 7, 2015 - Scarlets 23 Leinster 13, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, October 16, 2015 - Scarlets 25 Leinster 14, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, November 6, 2015 - Leinster 19 Scarlets 15, the RDS
Friday, November 25, 2016 - Scarlets 38 Leinster 29, Parc y Scarlets
Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Leinster 45 Scarlets 9, the RDS

MATCH FACTS:

- Leinster have played in seven previous PRO12 semi-finals, all at home (six at the RDS), and won them all

- The Leinstermen's 17-13 reversal in Ulster in round 22 ended a ten-match winning streak in the GUINNESS PRO12

- Leinster have not been defeated at home in the PRO12 since the Newport Gwent Dragons won 16-14 at the RDS in February 2015

- Leinster's only defeat to a Welsh region this season came when they visited Parc y Scarlets in November

- The Scarlets have reached the semi-finals only once before, losing 28-17 at that stage to Ulster in Belfast in 2013

- The Scarlets' only defeat since round 11 of the PRO12 was 45-9 against Leinster at the RDS in March

- The last seven matches between the two sides have all been won by the home team on the day, while the Scarlets' only previous victory at the RDS came on their first ever visit in October 2007
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