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Preview: Scarlets v Leinster

23rd September 2011 10:52

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Iestyn Thomas

Iestyn Thomas: Leads Scarlets

The Scarlets host Leinster at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday in the RaboDirect PRO12 with the home side looking to put in a big performance to mark their 5000th game.

After a frustrating weekend out in Munster, the Scarlets have vowed to come back stronger in front of a busy home crowd with the next three games being seen as crucial as the team regains momentum in its league campaign after a competitive start.

Back to the starting line-up comes 22-year-old Scarlets centre Nick Reynolds, who was a stand-out player in Llanelli RFC's Premiership league title win last season, including scoring a sensational hat-trick to get Llanelli into the Premiership final.

After an impressive performance against an experienced Munster side, the Scarlets' exciting new 19-year-old full-back Dale Ford gets another start at 15.

A former Scarlets Academy player, Ford showed his ability with the boot at a blustery Musgrave Park with some great kicking form including making penalty from the halfway line.

Andy Fenby and Lee Williams take up position on the wing and in the pack Emyr Phillips is back in the front row alongside Rhys Thomas and captain Iestyn Thomas who notched up his 200th Scarlets appearance last weekend.

In the back row, Josh Turnbull is not available through injury (shoulder) with Johnathan Edwards lining up alongside Ben Morgan and Rob McCusker. Lou Reed (knee injury) is replaced in the second row by Aaron Shingler.

Meanwhile, Nathan White makes his first start for Leinster after appearing as a replacement last weekend and the New Zealander is one of three changes in the pack.

Damian Browne lines up alongside Devin Toner while Jordi Murphy comes in for his first senior start after also coming off the bench against Glasgow Warriors.

The backline is unchanged meaning Cillian Willis partners Ian Madigan at half-back. Eoin O'Malley again lines up alongside Luke Fitzgerald at centre with David Kearney, Fionn Carr and Isa Nacewa completing the back three.

Form: Scarlets have slipped to successive defeats in the RaboDirect PRO12, but both encounters were played away from home. The Welshmen have won four of their last five matches at Parc y Scarlets. Scarlets are winless in their last nine clashes against Irish provinces. Leinster's only win in their last four matches was 31-10 at home to Newport Gwent Dragons on 9 September. Leinster slipped up at Ospreys in their most recent away game but have not lost two in a row on the road since September 2010. Scarlets' only win over Leinster since October 2007 was 18-16 at Parc y Scarlets on 5 September 2009.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Dale Ford, 14 Lee Williams, 13 Nick Reynolds 12 Gareth Maule, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Dan Newton, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Rob McCusker, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Aaron Shingler, 3 Rhys Thomas,2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Iestyn Thomas (c).
Replacements: 16 Craig Hawkins, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Richie Pugh, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Liam Williams.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 David Kearney, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Leo Auva'a, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock (c), 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Ciaran Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Darren Hudson.

Date: Saturday 24 September
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 18.30 BST (17.30 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

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Saturday , September 20
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Saturday , October 11
Munster vs ScarletsTBC
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PosTeamPPts
1Clermont Auvergne624
2Harlequins616
3Scarlets611
4Racing Metro Paris67