Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

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Preview: Scarlets v Leinster Rugby

client 24 Nov 2016
Scarlets v Leinster

Scarlets entertain Leinster in Llanelli under the Friday Night Lights at 19:35 GMT as the Guinness PRO12 returns from its three-week hiatus.

What’s at stake? Leinster are in superb form in the Guinness PRO12 – they have not lost since Round 2 in early September and head into this match on a six-game winning streak.

A win would solidify their position at the top of the pile, with second-place Munster currently trailing behind by three points.

The three defeats in a row that opened Scarlets’ season seem far in the distance now, as Wayne Pivac’s men have won five on the bounce and shot up the table into sixth.

With another victory against Leinster, and if results go their way elsewhere, they could feasibly end the weekend inside the top four.

Team news (Scarlets): Super Rugby star Johnny McNicholl is the headline act on Friday as he makes his first-team debut for Scarlets after arriving from the Crusaders.

He is the only change – on the right wing – to the team that beat Glasgow Warriors in the last round of the Guinness PRO12 on November 5.

Team news (Leinster): Leinster on the other hand have made four changes from the team – mostly in the pack – that toppled Zebre.

Peter Dooley comes in at loosehead, Ian Nagle slots into the second-row alongside Mike McCarthy and Dominic Ryan packs down on the blindside flank.

The final change sees Rory O’Loughlin partner Noel Reid in the centres after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Talking points: McNicholl has been enjoying some well-earned rest since finishing a full slate of Super Rugby over the summer – but he’s itching to make his debut for Scarlets.

And according to the 26-year-old, he has been in top form ever since putting pen to paper with the Welsh region in March.

“I thought I started playing really well as soon as I signed for the Scarlets; I got that weight off my shoulders, I knew what I was doing for the next two and a half years, I wasn’t playing for another contract, I was free with my rugby and did what I naturally did well.

“Hopefully, I can continue that form here with the Scarlets.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy is eager to prove he has got a lot left in the tank for both club and country after the Leinster lock returned from injury just before the break.

“I thought I was building and improving but it was really frustrating getting the injury,” said the 34-year-old. “Happy the last two weeks, happy with my performances against Connacht and Zebre, obviously I know I can always be better and do things better and try and improve.”

Key Battle: Scarlets openside flanker – and Olympic silver medallist – James Davies has a league-best ten turnovers already this year but on Friday he will meet the man who would be king.

Leinster’s Dan Leavy, who earned his first Ireland cap earlier this month, will be lining up on the other side having himself recorded nine turnovers in the Guinness PRO12.

Key stat: The last five encounters between the two sides have been won by the home side on the day, while Leinster’s most recent success at Parc y Scarlets was their 42-19 win on the opening round of the 2013/14 season.

Did you know? The Leinstermen have won their last three away games in the Guinness PRO12 but have not won four in a row on the road in the Championship since 2013.

Scarlets: A Thomas; J McNicholl, S Hughes, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell, J Evans; W Jones, R Elias, W Kruger; T Price, D Bulbring; A Shingler, J Davies W Boyde.

Replacements: E Phillips, D Evans, P Edwards, T Beirne, J Macleod, A Davies, D Jones, G Owen

Top Points Scorer:  61 – Rhys Patchell. Top Try Scorer: 3 – Liam Williams/Steffan Evans/Jonathan Evans/Will Boyde

Leinster:  I Nacewa; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, B Daly; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; P Dooley, R Strauss, M Bent; M McCarthy, I Nagle; D Ryan, D Leavy, J Conan.

Replacements: J Tracy, A Porter, O Heffernan, R Molony, P Timmins, L McGrath, T Daly, Z Kirchner

Top Points Scorer: 47 Isa Nacewa. Top Try Scorer: 4 – Adam Byrne.

TV: BBC Wales (KO 7.35pm)

Match officials – Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU). Assistant Referee 1: Elgan Williams (WRU) AR2: ), Leo Colgan (IRFU).

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Scarlets hold off 14-man Leinster comeback in nine-try Guinness PRO12 thriller

Jack Miller 25 Nov 2016

A nine-try Guinness PRO12 thriller saw Scarlets beat Leinster in South Wales, with the hosts eventually running out 38-29 bonus-point winners in the Guinness PRO12.

The hosts ran riot in the first period at Parc y Scarlets, with Johnny McNicholl, Werner Kruger, and Steff Evans all running in tries – while Richardt Strauss’ 39th-minute effort was all Leinster could muster.

Things went from bad to worse for the boys in blue when Barry Daly was sent off in the first minute of the second half with Will Boyde and Ryan Elias scoring soon after, but the Irish province showed their character to claw back two tries through Adam Byrne and Tom Daly.

And they got what they deserved for an admirable second-half comeback at the death, as Andrew Porter scored his first try in Leinster colours to wrap up a try bonus of their own.

It was the hosts who drew first blood in a thrilling, end-to-end start to the contest.

From a Leinster scrum on the Scarlets 22, the home side pounced on a loose ball and McNicholl was away to score on seven minutes – with Rhys Patchell adding the conversion.

Soon the penalties started to mount for the visitors, and after skipper Isa Nacewa was warned, Mike McCarthy saw yellow and Scarlets kicked the resulting penalty into the corner before Kruger was able to rumble over at the back of a driving maul.

Patchell was again on the money from the tee, but Nacewa reduced arrears on 26 minutes with a simple penalty after the boys in blue, still down to 14, won a penalty in front of the posts.

But the Welsh region were truly in the ascendancy just before Leinster returned to full strength, building the phases and lineouts with Evans eventually going over, and another smart Patchell conversion gave them a commanding 21-3 advantage.

It could have been ever worse for Leo Cullen as Evans dropped the ball moments later with the tryline at his mercy, and the four-time Guinness PRO12 champions made them pay.

Leinster put the ball through the hands, running the ball all the way across the back line to the right wing, where Byrne cut inside and fed hooker Strauss to score to give his side a sniff going into the break – although Nacewa’s conversion sailed wide.

But their task got an awful lot harder straight after the interval, when they were reduced to 14 men as  Daly saw red for tackling Aled Thomas in the air, with the full-back landing dangerously.

And the ruthless Scarlets made them pay straight away, as a brilliant passing move saw Evans and Thomas combine to send young No.8 Boyde over in the left corner.

Bonus-point secured, Patchell then sent another brilliant conversion over from out wide to give the hosts a 20-point cushion at 28-8.

A scrappy ten minutes followed, but after Hadleigh Parkes elected to go for the corner once again, great composure from the Scarlets’ forwards saw Elias score with a bit of help over the line from Aaron Shingler.

Byrne hit back for Leinster on 55 minutes after a great Ian Nagle drive, and Scarlets fans will have started to feel nervy four minutes later when Ross Byrne’s grubber through the sticks was dotted down by Daly to make the score 35-22.

Despite more Leinster pressure, Scarlets soon steadied the ship and Daniel Jones’ 71st minute penalty gave them a little more breathing room, before Porter’s bonus-point securing score as the clock ticked into the red.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

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