Preview: Leinster v Scarlets

Date published: March 3 2017

Leinster Coach Leo Cullen announced the match day 23 to take on the Scarlets tomorrow at the RDS Arena.

There are three changes to the starting XV that won in Newport last Friday and further changes on the bench.

Joey Carbery starts at full-back for the second week in a row with Adam Byrne and Fergus McFadden on the right and left wings. It’s as you were in the centre also with Noel Reid and Zane Kirchner in the 12 and 13 jerseys.

The first change is in the half-backs with Luke McGrath partnering Ross Byrne.

In the pack Irish international Richardt Strauss captains the team for the first time in the RDS as he comes in at hooker, with Peter Dooley and Michael Bent continuing at loose head and tight head.

Ross Molony is again selected in the second row but hayden Triggs comes in from the start this week having scored off the bench last week.

In the back row Dan Leavy comes in at open side having been 24th man last weekend with Ireland, with Rhys Ruddock and last week’s Man of the Match Jack Conan continuing at six and eight.

Bryan Byrne comes onto the bench where he will be joined by his twin brother Ed who made his first appearance in 28 months last weekend away to the Dragons. Should he get an opportunity off the bench tomorrow it will be his first run out at the RDS since October 2014.

Carlow man Tom Daly is also back from knee injury to take his place on the bench.

Meanwhile, Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac has named an unchanged starting XV to the one that secured a first victory in 14 years at Munster’s Thomond Park last Friday.

Scrum-half Declan Smith is the only change to the 23 that headed to Limerick last weekend; Smith has been released from Wales U20s camp for the first v fourth camp with fellow scrum half Aled Davies back in Wales camp.

Scarlets will be looking to secure a second victory on the bounce to keep fifth placed Ulster at bay, who are currently only five points adrift with a game in hand.

Speaking ahead of the first v fourth clash head coach Wayne Pivac said: “For us it’s really important to maximise the opportunities in these two away Irish games. There are points on offer and we want to get as many as we can. That was a really big result for us against Munster and we’ve got another big challenge this weekend against Leinster.

“The result this weekend is huge for us. We don’t really want to be leaving it down to that last weekend because there’s enough riding on that game as it is without top four riding on it as well!

“There’s a long way still go but it’ll be feet on the ground this week and prepare as normal.

“These boys have got a proud record. They’re three from three at the moment; they’re desperate to go four from four in this phase. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. If we can do that it sets us up nicely for the run home. We really want to go there (RDS) and try and get the points.”

Form: Leinster’s run of four successive maximum point victories in the PRO12 has taken them to
the top of the table for the first time since November. The Leinstermen have won their last 21 home games in the PRO12 since drawing 34-all with Glasgow Warriors at the RDS Arena on 27 March 2015, whilst their most recent home defeat in the Championship was to Newport Gwent Dragons at the RDS in February 2015.
Scarlets have won their last five PRO12 matches, whilst their only defeat in the last 13 rounds
was 9-19 at Ospreys on 27 December. Scarlets have won their last four encounters with Irish provinces, their best such run for over a decade. The last six encounters between the two sides have all gone in favour of the home team. Scarlets only previous victory over Leinster in Dublin was 52-23 at the RDS Arena in October 2007.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss(c), 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Barry Daly

Scarlets: 15 Johnny Mcnicholl, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Tom Price, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Ioan Nicholas

Date: Saturday, March 4
Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)