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Preview: Scarlets v Leinster

19th October 2012 08:32

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Gareth Maule Scarlets

Gareth Maule: In for Jonathan Davies

Scarlets coach Simon Easterby has made two changes to his starting XV for Saturday's Heineken Cup clash with Leinster at Parc y Scarlets.

The Scarlets' equal top try-scorer this season, Andy Fenby, returns to the line-up on the wing after recovering from a dead leg with Gareth Maule in a centre partnership with Scott Williams to replace the injured Jon Davies (groin).

Easterby makes no changes up front - backing the same pack that delivered a strong, brave and committed first 40 minutes in last weekend's defeat to Clermont.

New second-row signing, Argentinean international Tomás Vallejos, comes onto the bench with the opportunity to earn his first appearance in a Scarlets jersey and first experience in the Heineken Cup. Second-row Sione Timani is ruled out with a minor knee injury.

Morgan Stoddart is free to play after a double yellow carding last weekend and is on the bench for this match.

Easterby said the Scarlets were looking forward to the challenge and intensity of playing Heineken rugby on home soil this weekend and while they took first blood in the first of their four encounters with Leinster this season, the battle on Saturday would be a huge step-up from last time out.

"We can't read too much into our first result, we know that Leinster will come here with a renewed intensity and ambition not least because it's Heineken Cup second round but they are the holders of the European Cup and showed last week against Exeter that they won't give up that crown without a fight," he explained.

"Our games against Leinster are always highly competitive and tightly fought contests and we know that after our fortunes in France last week, we need to get a result here this afternoon to maintain a grip on our European campaign.

"The boys have had an excellent attitude this week. After the bitter frustration last weekend in France and a lot of tired and bruised bodies - the work ethic in training, coupled with the effort and commitment they've shown from Monday morning to pick themselves up and re-focus on this huge game as been significant.

"With four players making their Heineken Cup debuts last weekend, Samson Lee, George Earle, Joe Snyman and Richard Kelly there was no lack of edge, spirit, courage or determination from the boys and we can take confidence from our opening 40 minutes.

"This is a must win game for us but one that is still firmly in our grasp. I have no doubt it will be another great Scarlets European occasion and we'll be delighted to welcome crowds of supporters from across our region."

Meanwhile, Gordon D'Arcy returns to the Leinster starting line-up to earn his 209th cap for the province.

The inside centre, who is now the most capped Leinster player of all time having overtaken Shane Horgan in his last game three weeks ago - and will also incidentally equal Horgan's European record appearance tally (87 caps) - is one of two changes to the starting line-up that defeated Exeter in the opening round.

Fergus McFadden switches to the wing and is named in a back three alongside Isa Nacewa and Ian Madigan, who will again wear the number 15 jersey.

Jonathan Sexton meanwhile, who links up with Eoin Reddan at half-back, is just one point away from passing the 350 point mark in European competition.

The other change to the starting XV sees hooker Sean Cronin, a second-half replacement last weekend, make his 30th appearance in a front-row where he is joined by fellow Ireland internationals Cian Healy and Mike Ross.

Leo Cullen leads the team and is named again alongside Galway's Damian Browne at second-row, with Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin again forming the back-row unit.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Jon Edwards, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Morgan Stoddart.

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Andrew Conway, 23 Fionn Carr.

Date: Saturday, October 20
Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Kick-off: 13.35 BST (12.35 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner

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