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Scarlets vs Leinster Rugby
Guinness Pro12 Round 9
Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli,
Friday, 25th October 2016, 19:35

Television: BBC2 Wales only, no Irish TV coverage

It's been a fairly momentous three weeks in Irish rugby since Leinster last played. First Ireland finally got the monkey off their backs by beating New Zealand before nearly losing the head off their shoulders as the All Blacks hit back ruthlessly (in every sense of the word). That defeat has left Leinster sweating on the fitness of key men in Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw for the vital European match away to Northampton in two weeks time, but before that they have two Welsh teams to play in their bid to stay top of the League.

Before they take on the Dragons at home next week, they face a difficult trip to a Scarlets team in top form. As the only Welsh team in the top European tournament this season, they are their country's standard bearers. However, they had a nightmare start to the season when they lost their first three games in a row. They've bounced back superbly by winning five on the bounce in the league, including a 27-3 demolition of Glasgow last time out. In between those wins, they also fit in a comfortable win over Sale and a decent effort in losing 44-26 away to Saracens in the Champions Cup. They'll fancy their chances against a Leinster team missing so many players to the Ireland squad and they have made just one change from the team that beat Glasgow with kiwi winger Johnny Mcnicholl making his debut for them after signing from Canterbury.

However Leinster will fancy their chances too. While the internationals have been away the likes of Dan Leavy, Tom Daly, Barry Daly and Andrew Porter have been grabbing their chance to impress. None has caught the eye more though than winger Adam Byrne, who has followed up his fine pre-season form with four tries in two games. Byrne starts again in a side that shows four personnel changes to the last day. Rory O'Loughlin's return at outside centre is the only change in the backs but Peter Dooley, Ian Nagle and Dominic Ryan come into the pack with Ireland's latest international back row (we've now 8 on our books) Dan Leavy moving to openside for this one. Two other recently capped players James Tracy and Luke McGrath are on the bench along with Oisin Heffernan who will make his Leinster debut if called upon.

The Scarlets have had a good record against Leinster at home in recent years but if the pack can get some decent ball, Leinster's exciting backline could help to nick this one.

Team Lineups


Leinster Rugby
Teams Aled Thomas 15 Isa Nacewa (C)
Johnny Mcnicholl 14 Adam Byrne
Steff Hughes 13 Rory O'Loughlin
Hadleigh Parkes (C)
12 Noel Reid
Steff Evans 11 Barry Daly
Rhys Patchell 10 Ross Byrne
Jonathan Evans 9 Jamison Gibson-Park

Wyn Jones 1 Peter Dooley
Ryan Elias 2 Richardt Strauss
Werner Kruger 3 Michael Bent
Tom Price 4 Mike McCarthy
David Bulbring 5 Ian Nagle
Aaron Shingler 6 Dominic Ryan
James Davies 7 Dan Leavy
Will Boyde 8 Jack Conan

Replacements Emyr Phillip 16 James Tracy
Dylan Evans 17 Andrew Porter
Peter Edwards 18 Oisin Heffernan
Tadhg Beirne 19 Ross Molony
Josh Macleod 20
Peadar Timmins
Aled Davies 21 Luke McGrath
Dan Jones 22 Tom Daly
Gareth Owen 23 Zane Kirchner

Not Considered
Due to Injury

Jordi Murphy,
Ian Fitzpatrick,
Billy Dardis,
Fergus McFadden,
Cathal Marsh,
Mike Ross,
Dave Kearney
Officials Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU),
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (IRFU), Elgan Williams (WRU),
TMO: Neil Hennessy (WRU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2016-11-24