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Magners Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Magners Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Leinster could stretch their unbeaten run to six matches when they entertain familiar foes, the Scarlets, on Saturday night. The Scarlets won 18-16 when the sides met in their league opener in September, but Leinster put 71 points on the Welsh region when they carved out back-to-back European wins in December.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, February 20

LEINSTER (5th) v SCARLETS (9th), The RDS, 6.30pm (live Setanta Sports 1/S4C)

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Team News: Shane Jennings captains the selected Leinster side and is one of five Ireland internationals named in the pack for the visit of the Scarlets to the RDS.

Jennings forms an exciting looking back row combination with recent RBS 6 Nations debutants Kevin McLaughlin and Sean O’Brien.

Devin Toner lines up at lock alongside Malcolm O’Kelly who will be making his 177th Leinster appearance this weekend.

Bernard Jackman has been pencilled in at hooker, with Stan Wright and CJ van der Linde taking the prop berths.

Eoin Reddan partners Jonathan Sexton at half-back and Shane Horgan (175th cap) and full-back Girvan Dempsey (167th) have been named in the back-three alongside Bank of Ireland Leinster Player of the Month Isa Nacewa.

Andrew Conway, who has impressed for the Ireland Under-20s this season, could make his Leinster debut as a replacement.

Over 14,500 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s Magners League game against the Scarlets. There will be the usual ‘Family Day’ activity on the day and musician Colm Lynch will be performing at half-time.

Meanwhile, the Wales trio of Martin Roberts, Jonathan Davies and Ken Owens will all start for the Scarlets at the RDS on Saturday.

After Leinster did the double on the Scarlets in the Heineken Cup in December, Nigel Davies’ side will be looking to gain revenge and some valuable Magners League points in their bid to climb the table and secure a place in Europe next season.

The Scarlets beat the reigning European champions 18-16 in the opening Magners League game of the season back in early September at Parc y Scarlets.

Roberts starts at scrum half, with the exciting centre partnership of Jonathan Davies and Regan King reunited for the first time in a year. King starts in his second game for the Welsh region after returning from a long term hamstring injury.

Young Llanelli back Dan Newton will make his first start for the region at full-back. The 20-year-old has impressed the boot in recent games in the Welsh Premiership with Llanelli RFC. Daniel Evans moves from full-back to the right wing.

Experienced Australian international David Lyons captains the side for the away fixture, with 50 games for the region now under his belt.

LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Fergus McFadden, Shaun Berne, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, CJ van der Linde, Devin Toner, Malcolm O’Kelly, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings (capt), Sean O’Brien.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Trevor Hogan, Stephen Keogh, Paul O’Donohoe, Eoin O’Malley, Andrew Conway.

SCARLETS: Dan Newton; Daniel Evans, Regan King, Jonathan Davies, Andy Fenby; Rhys Priestland, Martin Roberts; Iestyn Thomas, Ken Owens, Deacon Manu, Dominic Day, Damian Welch, Rob McCusker, Johnathan Edwards, David Lyons (capt).

Replacements: Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Rhys Thomas, Vernon Cooper, Josh Turnbull, Tavis Knoyle, Gareth Maule.

Referee: Andy Macpherson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Colin Stanley, Jonathan Peak (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Tony Redmond (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/9; Draw: 25/1; Scarlets to win: 5/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “The only player who is a long term doubt is Luke Fitzgerald and he wouldn’t have been in the national team anyway, so it is probably about a good a compliment as we could have at this stage of the season,” he said.

“Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan and Jonathan Sexton will all be involved (this weekend).

“If you look at this Magners League run and the way we try to plan it out, obviously it is not the situation we thought we would be in exactly, but we are still close enough to the top – all things going well by the end of these games – to get into the top two.

“A top four place is our target at this stage because we have to be realistic about the players we are missing, etc. I think an individual approach to this game is what’s needed because every step now is a step closer to the semi-finals.

“They are quite tangible now, we have played nine games but the split will come now. If you keep accumulating the points, each week is kind of broken, but getting the points each week will get you to the stage.

“After this game we have Cardiff away, Glasgow at home and then Connacht away and they are all important games for us in (terms of) getting there. It is good to be at home too because we haven’t played together for a while.

“The Magners League is an important competition for Welsh teams who want to play in the Heineken Cup next year and I think there has been a bit of a resurgence and there is quality there, we’ve seen from the recent Cup games they have quite a good run going there.

“The one thing about Llanelli is we remember that they came here and gave us quite a bashing a few years back and that puts the fear into us every time we play them, that they could do it to us again.

“They have got Regan King back…Rhys Priestland behind the scrum is a very good player and we know very well the threat that they pose.”

Nigel Davies (Scarlets) – “Leinster have a strong squad and have depth, even without a number of their internationals – and that’s what you need to be successful as a team.

“It will be a challenge for us but we’ll look forward to a good game out there, we’ve been going pretty well in the past month.

“If you look at our season so far considering where we have come from, we can been reasonably happy with what we achieved, as runners-up in our pool in the Heineken Cup and joint top of the LV= Cup pool. We now need to concentrate on results in the Magners League.

“We’ve come close a number of times in our Magners games, we’ve played reasonably well against some good teams but have just come up short – shown by the number of losing bonus points we’ve secured (five in total).

“We’ve now got to turn those performances into results and get some points in our next three or four games.”

Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Leinster – Points: Jonathan Sexton 71; Tries: Shane Horgan 2; Scarlets – Points: Rhys Priestland 56; Tries: Jonathan Davies 3


Friday, January 26, 2007 – Leinster 44 Scarlets 34, Donnybrook
Friday, October 5, 2007 – Leinster 23 Scarlets 52, The RDS
Saturday, March 29, 2008 – Scarlets 10 Leinster 24, Stradey Park
Saturday, February 21, 2009 – Scarlets 17 Leinster 31, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, May 8, 2009 – Leinster 45 Scarlets 8, The RDS
Saturday, September 5, 2009 – Scarlets 18 Leinster 16, Parc y Scarlets


– Leinster are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions since the Newport Gwent Dragons beat them 30-14 at Rodney Parade in the Magners League on December 6

– The Leinstermen have won their last ten Magners League games at the RDS, with the last visiting team to win there being Munster in September 2008

– The Scarlets have won their last three away games in all competitions, and have not lost on the road in the Magners League since a trip to Connacht on October 30

– However, the Welsh region have lost on their last five visits to Ireland