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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Scarlets v Leinster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Scarlets v Leinster

Denied a famous double by the Ospreys last May, Leinster will relaunch their bid for an elusive RaboDirect PRO12 title when they take on the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, September 1

SCARLETS v LEINSTER, Parc y Scarlets, 6.30pm (live TG4/S4C)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face the Scarlets in Saturday evening’s opening game of the RaboDirect PRO12 campaign in Llanelli has been named.

Shane Jennings leads the team and is included in the back row alongside Dominic Ryan and number 8 Leo Auva’a. Damian Browne locks down alongside Devin Toner in the province’s engine room.

Isaac Boss, who skippered Leinster in last weekend’s 10-10 draw away to Sale Sharks, partners Ian Madigan at half-back.

The 23-year-old Madigan, who was the province’s Powerade Young Player of the Year last season, will make his 50th appearance after featuring 26 times last season.

Noel Reid continues his centre partnership with Brendan Macken, with Andrew Conway named in a fast-paced back-three alongside Fionn Carr and full-back Isa Nacewa.

Tom Denton could be set to make his competitive debut for the team if he appears off a replacements bench which includes six players who have come through the Leinster Academy.

Meanwhile, with a big home fixture to start their campaign, the Scarlets are showing their intent with a strong team and plenty of experience and power to call on from the bench.

Wales internationals Liam Williams, George North and Scott Williams bolster a back-line that also includes experienced league campaigners Andy Fenby, Gareth Maule and Aled Thomas – all of whom put in strong performances against London Welsh last weekend.

Aaron Shingler returns to the back row alongside Josh Turnbull and new Scarlets skipper Rob McCusker at number 8, with new South African signing George Earle and former Osprey Richard Kelly linking up in the second row.

With internationals Matthew Rees, Rhys Priestland and Jon Davies on the bench, the Scarlets have a good deal of experience and flair to draw on for former Ireland flanker Simon Easterby’s first competitive game in charge.

SCARLETS: Liam Williams; George North, Gareth Maule, Scott Williams, Andy Fenby; Aled Thomas, Tavis Knoyle; Rhodri Jones, Ken Owens, Deacon Manu, George Earle, Richard Kelly, Aaron Shingler, Josh Turnbull, Rob McCusker (capt).

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Phil John, Samson Lee, Sione Timani, Kieran Murphy, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Davies.

LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa; Andrew Conway, Brendan Macken, Noel Reid, Fionn Carr; Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Jamie Hagan, Damian Browne, Devin Toner, Dominic Ryan, Shane Jennings (capt), Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: Aaron Dundon, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Collie O’Shea, Darren Hudson.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes, Martyn Lewis (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Scarlets to win: 8/13; Draw: 20/1; Leinster to win: 13/10

Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Leinster) – “While you get an indication during the pre-season games as to where you are at, the harsh reality doesn’t strike until that first game.

“Unfortunately that harsh reality has been in the negative for us in the last two seasons, with the opening round defeats to the Ospreys and Glasgow.

“We would like to start positively. Obviously that’s going to be difficult against a Scarlets side that have recruited really well.

“They’ve strengthened their tight five, they have super loose forwards. I really like (Josh) Turnbull, (Rob) McCusker and (Kieran) Murphy, they’ve some of their top quality backs back in. It’s exciting, because of the quality of the opposition and it is a massive opportunity for some of the younger players.”

Simon Easterby (Scarlets) – “It’s been a busy couple of months in the new role, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. I feel very comfortable and confident about what we can achieve and it’s great to have so much support and backing from the coaches, players and the business – so we’re all in a really good place.

“We know the quality and depth that Leinster have and they’re a big challenge to any team in Europe with or without their internationals, so we have a lot to face.

“We also know we are capable of taking the game to them and holding them, and we’ll need to put into practice all the hard work and preparation we’ve put in this summer to get a result on Saturday evening.”


Saturday, September 5, 2009 – Scarlets 18 Leinster 16, Parc y Scarlets
Saturday, February 20, 2010 – Leinster 27 Scarlets 14, the RDS
Friday, December 3, 2010 – Scarlets 17 Leinster 17, Parc y Scarlets
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


– The Scarlets have earned round 1 victories in the RaboDirect PRO12 in three of the last four years. The Welshmen concluded the last campaign with just one defeat in their last seven matches, losing out to Edinburgh 26-23 in March

– Leinster were the only side to beat the Scarlets at home in the RaboDirect PRO12 last season

– Since the tournament became a season long one in 2003/04, amazingly Leinster have won in round 1 just once, securing a 23-8 victory at home to Edinburgh in 2007

– The only side to defeat the Leinstermen in the PRO12 after the 2011 Rugby World Cup was the Ospreys, who did it twice

– The Scarlets have not beaten Leinster in their last seven encounters in all competitions, since their 18-16 victory at Parc y Scarlets in the opening round of this competition in the 2009/10 season