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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Charlie Bennett 8 Mar 2018

Two Guinness PRO14 heavyweights meet on Friday night as Leinster face Scarlets in a re-arranged game following last week’s postponement.

Storm Emma forced Dublin Airport to close, pushing this game back a week and building the excitement levels even higher.

However, the game is certainly worth the wait with the two best sides in Conference B going head to head for the second time in a few weeks.

What’s at stake?

It’s the battle for top spot in Conference B with Friday’s winner sitting pretty with less than two months to go.

Leinster have won 13 of their 16 league games this season and sit top of the conference, while Scarlets have won 12 – keeping them just three points behind.

Both sides seem destined for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series but finishing top could be a big advantage at the end of the season.

Team news (Leinster)

Leinster boss Leo Cullen will be delighted to see flanker Sean O’Brien return from a hip injury and he lines up in an exciting back-row with Josh Murphy and Jack Conan.

Veteran Dave Kearney starts at full-back, with Barry Daly and James Lowe either side of him, while Noel Reid and Rory O’Loughlin line up at centre.

Young scrum-half Charlie Rock could make his first appearance of the season from the bench.

Team news (Scarlets)

Wayne Pivac has made three changes to the side which beat Ulster two weeks ago, with Phil Price, Will Boyde and Ryan Conbeer drafted in.

Prop Price makes his first start in a Scarlets jersey with Dylan Evans out ill, while Boyde replaces James Davies who has been called up by Wales.

Corey Baldwin is also away on international duty with Wales U20s, allowing Conbeer to take his place.

Talking points:

Leinster hooker Bryan Byrne said: “It would be huge (to win). We have not beaten them over there since 2013 and it will be a big test no doubt.

“They are playing great rugby and got a big win against Ulster so they are a tough team to beat. I suppose playing them a couple of weeks ago means we know what to expect.

“We are looking to try make sure our ruck is good and our set-piece is good. From there, we want to play a good brand of rugby.”

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “After this game is played and we get the internationals back. It’s the run-in in both competitions and it’s a really exciting time.

“Leinster have a lot of threats, we know that, and we’re going to have to be on our game to get a result.”

Key battle – Sean O’Brien v Josh Macleod

This will be Sean O’Brien’s first piece of action since injuring his hip injury in December and he has an intriguing match-up against Josh Macleod.

The young Welshman is enjoying a run in the side with a number of established players away with Wales – but O’Brien is one of the top operators in the game.

A physical force, O’Brien will look to bully Macleod at the breakdown and how the 21-year-old stands up to that test could go a long way to defining the outcome.

Key stat: Leinster have not been defeated at home in a regular season league fixture for over three years, when Dragons were the visitors.

Did you know? There has been one draw in the 30 meetings between the sides, with Leinster winning 18 times and Scarlets 11.

Leinster Rugby: Dave Kearney, Barry Daly, Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid, James Lowe, Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy, Ed Byrne, Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy, Seán O’Brien, Jack Conan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Adam Coyle, Mick Kearney, Max Deegan, Charlie Rock, Ciarán Frawley, Adam Byrne.

Scarlets: Tom Williams, Ioan Nicholas, Paul Asquith, Steff Hughes ©, Ryan Conbeer, Dan Jones, Jonathan Evans, Phil Price, Ryan Elias, Werner Kruger, Steve Cummins, David Bulbring, Tadhg Beirne, Josh Macleod, Will Boyde.

Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Rhys Fawcett, Simon Gardiner, Josh Helps, Lewis Rawlins, Declan Smith, Ioan Hughes, Tom Varndell.

TV: Live on Sky Sports

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start from just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Jones nails last-minute penalty as Leinster and Scarlets share the points

Andrew Lawton 9 Mar 2018
Dave Kearney, Leinster

Leinster missed out on a first away-day win against the Scarlets since 2013 as a late penalty from Dan Jones earned the Scarlets a dramatic last-gasp draw.

The game was played in appallingly wet conditions, with Ed Byrne scoring Leinster’s only try and Paul Asquith replying for Scarlets.

Ross Byrne thought he had won it late on for Leinster with a well-taken penalty but Jones had the final say after a turnover in the final second of the game.

In a tight and tense affair, Leinster tried to run down the clock in their own 22 in the final minute of the game but referee Nigel Owens handed Scarlets a late penalty and Jones made no mistake.

The two Guinness PRO14 heavyweights of Conference B met on Friday night in a rearranged fixture; following Storm Emma forcing Dublin Airport to close seven days previously.

In pouring rain, both sides cancelled each other out in the opening 25 minutes as the scoreboard showed no signs of moving.

The return of Sean O’Brien, playing for the first time since suffering a hip injury in December, was short-lived though as he limped off with an injury after only 27 minutes.

With their first visit into the Leinster 22, Scarlets thought they had scored on 29 minutes, as Tom Williams produced some neat footwork to beat two defenders and touch down.

With the conversion about to be taken, the TMO stepped in and reviewed the grounding and on reflection referee Nigel Owens reversed his decision and chalked off the score.

Leinster started well after the break and an excellent Kearney kick through was collected by Ioan Nicholas but the Scarlets man was driven over his own line.

Following a period of sustained pressure Leinster finally scored the game’s opening try as Ed Byrne burrowed over from close range, with Ross Byrne adding the extras to make the score 7-0.

Dan Jones then missed the opportunity to pull Scarlets back into the game as he pushed a penalty wide of the posts after 52 minutes.

Leinster then withstood 19 phases of Scarlets pressure on their own try line as the visitors produced a superb defensive effort.

Scarlets finally got on level terms as Asquith finished off a flowing home move on 64 minutes that was created following a powerful catch and drive and an initial break from Jonathan Evans.

Jones added the extras to make it 7-7.

Ross Byrne landed a crucial penalty after 72 minutes as he nudged Leinster back in front after a series of carries from the visitors.

Nick McCarthy then had a late score disallowed for Leinster after a charge down as Scarlets stayed in the game until the death.

New signing Tom Varndell nearly won it late on but couldn’t collect the slippery ball but Scarlets earned a late reprieve as Jones struck from the tee to level things up.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start from just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138