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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Having climbed up to third in the RaboDirect PRO12, a reinforced Leinster team will want to make it six wins on the trot when they host the Scarlets on Saturday night.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, November 30

LEINSTER (3rd) v SCARLETS (6th), the RDS, 7.15pm (live TG4/S4C)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face the Scarlets in Saturday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 fixture at the RDS has been named.

Head coach Matt O’Connor can call upon several members of the Ireland squad who were involved in the recent GUINNESS Series matches.

There is a blend of youth and experience across the team with the province’s most-capped player Gordon D’Arcy, who will make his 228th appearance, partnering Brendan Macken – with 32 provincial caps to date – in the centre.

Eoin Reddan makes his 88th appearance and links up with Ian Madigan at half-back, with Luke Fitzgerald – one of eight Ireland internationals named in the starting line-up – featuring in an exciting back-three alongside South African international Zane Kirchner and former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri.

The fit-again Leo Cullen will make his seasonal debut for the province, lining out in the second row alongside Mike McCarthy.

Fresh from his involvement with the Ireland squad, Jack McGrath will start in the front row alongside hooker Aaron Dundon and Bank of Ireland Player of the Month Martin Moore.

Shane Jennings leads the side and is named in the back row alongside Academy graduates Rhys Ruddock and Jordi Murphy, who will wear the number 8 jersey.

Leinster can call upon a further three Ireland internationals off the bench, including the likes of Sean Cronin and Mike Ross as well as New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth.

Tickets sales for Saturday’s game have passed the 15,200 mark. Tickets can be bought online here, and from the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook), Spar (Donnybrook), Active Sports (Blackrock) as well as Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Meanwhile, with just two changes to the team that beat Connacht, Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby has backed the players that put in a big performance to win away from home in Galway.

Scotland international John Barclay returns to regional action in the back row with Jo Snyman coming in for the George Earle in the second row – Earle is sidelined with concussion.

Young Scarlets talents Rob Evans (prop) and Jordan Williams (wing) are released back from international training with Wales to come onto the bench.

Romanian giant Horatiu Pungea (tighthead prop) also returns from national duty to give another strong front row option in the reserves.

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Lote Tuqiri, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Aaron Dundon, Martin Moore, Leo Cullen, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings (capt), Jordi Murphy.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Michael Bent, Mike Ross, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Luke McGrath, Jimmy Gopperth, Darragh Fanning.

SCARLETS: Gareth Owen; Nick Reynolds, Gareth Maule, Adam Warren, Frazier Climo; Aled Thomas, Gareth Davies; Phil John (capt), Kirby Myhill, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jake Ball, Jo Snyman, Aaron Shingler, John Barclay, Sione Timani.

Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Rob Evans, Horatiu Pungea, Richard Kelly, Josh Turnbull, Aled Davies, Josh Lewis, Jordan Williams.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Stuart Douglas (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/18; Draw: 35/1; Scarlets to win: 15/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Aaron Dundon (Leinster) – “The boys that came back (from international duty) have been really positive and given everyone a lift. There’s been a good buzz around the place.

“They fit in straight away – it takes them a day. They’re buzzing and looking forward to it. They’re looking forward to playing against the Scarlets.

“The Scarlets had a great win at the weekend in Galway against Connacht. It was a tough one, especially with the players away (on international duty), but they’ve got a young crop of players there that are doing really well. They’ll be really competitive at the RDS this weekend.

“To win on Saturday is key. You want to win leading into the Heineken Cup rounds. It’s the last chance saloon, the last chance to put yourself in contention for the match against Northampton. There’s a good bit of competition with the players.

“I hope I have (done enough to put myself in contention). I’ve done well in the last two games but you never know what the coaches are thinking. I hope I’ve given them something to think about for the selection process.”

Simon Easterby (Scarlets) – “Securing points away from home in this period is crucial to our campaign, it was vital to win (away in Connacht) last weekend and to maintain positive momentum during a very intense couple of months of rugby for this group.

“The boys really dug in well at the end in Galway and we’ll need to replicate that level of ambition, commitment and effort throughout if we’re to come away with any points from this weekend.

“It may be a challenging block of rugby for us but exactly where we want to be playing as a club against top quality sides and to really test ourselves.

“You need to go to face Leinster with a positive mindset and not allow them to put pressure on you throughout. They have the ability to keep hold of the ball and their continuity is second to none.

“So, we’re not going there to keep offering them the opportunities – we have to turn up and take our game to them as well.”

Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Jimmy Gopperth 66; Tries: David Kearney, Noel Reid 2 each; Scarlets – Points: Steve Shingler 38; Tries: Gareth Davies 4


Friday, March 4, 2011 – Leinster 26 Scarlets 15, the RDS
Saturday, September 24, 2011 – Scarlets 10 Leinster 15, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, February 17, 2012 – Leinster 16 Scarlets 13, the RDS
Saturday, September 1, 2012 – Scarlets 45 Leinster 20, Parc y Scarlets
Saturday, February 23, 2013 – Leinster 32 Scarlets 5, the RDS
Friday, September 6, 2013 – Scarlets 19 Leinster 42, Parc y Scarlets


– Leinster have won their last five contests in all competitions since losing the interprovincial clash with Munster at Thomond Park on October 5

– The Leinstermen’s single defeat at the RDS in any competition since the 2012 RaboDirect PRO12 final was 22-18 to Ulster on March 30

– The province have not been defeated by a Welsh region since they visited the Liberty Stadium in November 2012

– The Scarlets’ only defeat in their last five PRO12 matches was 17-12 at home to Glasgow Warriors in round 5

– The Welshmen have lost just once away from home in the PRO12 this season: 23-16 at the Dragons in round 3, while they have already won in Ireland this season, 24-21, at Connacht last Saturday

– The Scarlets have beaten Leinster only once in their last dozen encounters in all tournaments since September 2009: 45-20 at Parc y Scarlets in the PRO12 in September 2012

– The Scarlets’ only previous victory at the RDS came on their first ever visit to the stadium on October 5, 2007