Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

22nd February 2013 10:49

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Leo Cullen Leinster

Leading Leinster: Leo Cullen

Leinster and Scarlets clash for the fourth time this season as the Welsh region travel to Dublin to face the only side with an unbeaten home record in the PRO12 this season.

The Scarlets sit in fourth after a big win against Munster last weekend on home soil and now have 46 points - just three short of Leinster in third.

Leo Cullen, who was a second half replacement in the bonus point victory over Benetton Treviso last weekend, returns to the starting line up as skipper and partners Ben Marshall at lock.

Ireland international Shane Jennings is back in the starting line-up after missing last weekend's win and features in the back-row alongside Jordi Murphy and Dominic Ryan, who scored a hat-trick of tries last time out.

In the backline, Isaac Boss links up at scrum-half with Noel Reid, who is one of three current Academy players in the starting line-up, with Andrew Goodman continuing at centre alongside Eoin O'Malley. Fionn Carr - who makes his 35th appearance for his home province - joins Andrew Conway and Dave Kearney in the back three.

Ian Madigan and Fergus McFadden are named amongst the replacements after their release from Ireland camp after their training on Friday.

Meanwhile, Wales internationals Aaron Shingler and Josh Turnbull return to Scarlets to take their places in the back row alongside captain Rob McCusker at number eight.

Fly-half Aled Thomas moves to full-back for the injured Gareth Owen and Coach Simon Easterby keeps faith in his young nine and 10 combination with Aled Davies winning the starting scrum-half contest alongside man of the match from last weekend Owen Williams, who scored 18 points with the boot last weekend.

"We have to go back to October 2007 to find the last time we won at the RDS, so we know we have plenty to do out there. Leinster have a very proud home record and we know from our encounters in Europe what intensity they can bring," said Easterby.

"We got a good win against them at the beginning of the season and that gives us heart; however we're also well aware that we caught them a bit cold that day and you won't see that in a Leinster team too often.

"We have learnt a lot from our performances in December and January and particularly our games against them in the Heineken Cup; we know that any mistakes from us will be capitalised on. They are a well-coached and well-drilled team."

"We are pleased with the form we have coming into this game, it will be tough but the boys have responded well and with some continuity in selection now, we are building.

"Winning against Munster last weekend, we showed there was less error in our game, we're not feeding the opposition and starting to reward ourselves more with good territory and field possession.

"We have put pressure on sides by taking our points from goal kicking and drop goals and rewarding our forwards for their efforts by keeping the scoreboard ticking over."

Form: Leinster have won their last six matches in all competitions since losing 19-27 in Ulster on 21 December. The Leinstermen remain the only side with a 100% home winning record in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season. Scarlets have won their last three games in all tournaments, but all three encounters have been played at home. The Welshmen have slipped to four successive away defeats and have not won outside of Wales since a trip to Munster on 25 November. Scarlets only victory over Leinster in their last ten meetings in all competitions since 2009 was 45-20 at Parc y Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 1 September 2012. Their only victory on Leinster soil is 52-23 at the RDS on 5 October 2007.

The teams:

Leinster:15 Dave Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Ben Marshall, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Michael Bent, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Sexton, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden.

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 Nick Reynolds, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (capt). 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Synman, 4 George Earle, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Kristian Phillips, 23 Dale Ford.

Date: Saturday, February 23
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: RDS
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Michael Black, Jonathan Peak
Television match official: Dermot Moloney
Assessor: Michael Carroll

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