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Magners Preview: Llanelli v Leinster

Magners Preview: Llanelli v Leinster

History is against Leinster coming away from Stradey Park with the spoils – the province have won just once in their last ten trips to Wales since December 2003.

…Llanelli prop Martyn Madden is brought to ground during the sides’ meeting at Stradey Park last season…

History is against Leinster coming away from Stradey Park with the spoils – the province have won just once in their last ten trips to Wales since December 2003.

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MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, September 23

LLANELLI v LEINSTER, Stradey Park, 5.30pm (live Setanta Sports)

**IrishRugby.ie will be running a live match tracker from Stradey Park**

Team News: Llanelli coach Phil Davies has made a wholesale eight changes – as well as one positional switch – to his side for Saturday’s showdown with Leinster. The Scarlets beat Connacht 37-15 last Friday, for their third win in four league games.

Mark Jones gets his first start of the Magners League campaign, replacing Darren Daniel on the wing while the other changes in the back line see Regan King, a two-try hero against Connacht, and Dwayne Peel brought in for Gavin Evans and Clive Stuart-Smith.

Iestyn Thomas and Craig Dunlea are drafted into the front row while Inoke Afeaki joins Scott MacLeod. Team captain and Ireland flanker Simon Easterby reverts back to blindside flanker, allowing Gavin Thomas and Alix Popham to start, with James Bater dropping to the replacements bench.

Llanelli: Ceiron Thomas; Mark Jones, Matthew Watkins, Regan King, Dafydd James; Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel; Iestyn Thomas, Matthew Rees, Craig Dunlea, Inoke Afeaki, Scott Macleod, Simon Easterby (capt), Gavin Thomas, Alix Popham.

Replacements: Deacon Manu, Ken Owens, Adam Jones, James Bater, Clive Stuart-Smith, Gavin Evans, Barry Davies.

Leinster Squad: Forwards – Johnny Wickham, Reggie Corrigan, Will Green, Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Harry Vermaas, Adam Byrnes, Owen Finegan, Trevor Hogan, Keith Gleeson, Richie Leyden, Jamie Heaslip, Stephen Keogh, Niall Ronan.

Backs – Guy Easterby, Chris Whitaker, Felipe Contepomi (capt), Christian Warner, Gary Brown, Luke Fitzgerald, Denis Hickie, Rob Kearney, Ross McCarron, Michael Berne, Kieran Lewis.

Referee: David Changleng (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Hugh Watkins, Matthew Aplin (both Wales)

Coach Speak: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “We’ve got a tricky week to negotiate (with some players having been away in camp with the Ireland squad). We worked on the technical side of things early in the week, so our teamwork sessions will be done on Thursday and Friday. It isn’t ideal but we’ve got to get our heads around it.

“We’ve got to build on the aggression that we have shown in the games so far, but I have been pleased with our defence.

“Owen (Finegan) has taken a leadership role in terms of calling the lineouts and he’s putting a lot of time into that side of things as have the likes of Stephen Keogh and Trevor Hogan which is pleasing.

“Flanker Niall Ronan has recovered from a bruised hip and is available for selection.”


November 2003 – Leinster 31 Llanelli 20, Donnybrook
April 2004 – Llanelli 51 Leinster 20, Stradey Park
November 2004 – Llanelli 24 Leinster 22, Racecourse Ground
March 2005 – Leinster 31 Llanelli 25, Lansdowne Road
January 2006 – Llanelli 20 Leinster 18, Stradey Park
April 2006 – Leinster 30 Llanelli 22, Lansdowne Road


– If the Scarlets avoid defeat they will equal their record of 11 unbeaten matches at home, originally set between September 2003 and May 2004. Leinster have won just once in their last ten trips to Wales since December 2003 – a 15-6 defeat of Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park in December 2004

– Leinster have won just twice at Stradey Park previously – 33-27 in the European Cup in September 1998 and 19-17 over Llanelli RFC in the league in August 2001

– The six previous league encounters between the sides have all been won by the home team on the day

– Llanelli’s Welsh international out-half Stephen Jones is the third top scorer in the Magners League currently, with 42 points (9 conversions and 8 penalties). Leinster number 10 Felipe Contepomi has scored 20 points in the province’s opening two league matches. Jones has landed 17 out of 24 kicks for a 70.83% success rate – he has been successful with his last seven kicks at goal – while Contepomi has sent over 7 out of 10 kicks (70%)

– As well as being the current league leaders, Llanelli are the top try-scoring team with 13 tries in their four outings to date. Young winger Darren Daniel has scored five of those, with Gavin Evans (3) and Regan King (2) also showing some good early form

– Llanelli v Leinster clashes has been traditionally high-scoring affairs. The least amount of points the sides have swapped in a league encounter is 38 (the most was 71 back in April 2004). Leinster and Ireland winger Denis Hickie has touched down twice in the last three meetings between the sides, while Llanelli centre Matthew Watkins has notched two tries in the last four