Preview: Leicester v Scarlets

Date published: January 15 2015

Leicester will seek revenge for their European Champions Cup defeat at the hands of Scarlets earlier this season in Friday’s rematch at Welford Road.

Scarlest won 15-3 at Parc y Scarlets in Round Two, claiming only the fifth win by Welsh teams against the Tigers in 25 European matches.

In in 12 games, no Welsh team has managed a victory Welford Road so Tigers will fancy of snatching the bonus-point win they need to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

“Eighteen points might just be good enough to allow us to creep in as one of the three best runners-up, but 16 or 17 probably won’t be. I’ve told the players that we need to get our attacking mind-set right and go for two bonus point victories,” said Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

The Scarlets are in the same position as Tigers with eight points from their four games but they must face reigning champions Toulon at Parc y Scarlets next weekend.

In team news, Brad Thorn and Logovi’i Mulipola return to the Leicester Tigers forward pack.

After scoring a try in the home win over Toulon, Thorn has been sidelined since suffering a calf injury in the return fixture in the south of France in the fourth round of European action.

Samoan prop Mulipola made his return from an Achilles injury with an appearance from the bench in the league game against Harlequins last weekend.

Italian duo Michele Rizzo and Leonardo Ghiraldini return to the front-row.

There are places for Freddie Burns and Seremaia Bai in the backline and Matt Smith returns from injury to provide backline cover on the bench.

Meanwhile, amongst Scarlets’ injury list are six first choice front-row players in captain Ken Owens, fellow hookers Emyr Phillips and Kirby Myhill, loosehead prop Phil John and tighthead props Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones.

Scarlets Academy prop Ryan Elias will make his European debut for the region alongside young loosehead prop Rob Evans and experienced tighthead Jacobie Adriaanse.

Jordan Williams returns to the starting line up at full-back with Welsh international Liam Williams ruled out due to injury.

“We have a pretty extensive injury toll but there’s not a lot we can do about that,” said Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac.

“If we look back at the Tigers game here at Parc y Scarlets, we had a bit of disarray in that game with four injuries in the first half hour.

“We rallied the troops that day, dug deep and came up with a great result -something similar will be required with this game.”

Looking at the region’s opposition Pivac went on to say: “Leicester have a very mobile line-out which is very efficient and it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

With two victories each Scarlets and Tigers are both still very much in the campaign with the winner of the round five clash keeping the competition alive for the final pool game next week – with Scarlets taking on reigning champions Toulon.

Pivac went on to say: “We’re very much still in the hunt, we’ve spoken this week and said ‘lets park the PRO12’. We’ve put in four pretty good performances in the first four games with two wins.

“The performance away from home against Toulon was a very solid performance. We’ve talked about the performance against Toulon on the road and that’s the sort of effort we’re going to need and also the gutsy performance against Tigers out here – we need to transfer that to their ground.

“It’s a big game, there’s a lot riding on it – we’re second equal with Leicester -the winner of this game is still in with a chance next week.”

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Robert Barbieri, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Smith.

Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Regan King, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 George Earle, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Darran Harris, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Rory Pitman.

Date: Friday, 16 January
Venue: Welford Road, Leicester
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Salem Attalah (France); Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)