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Leinster Rugby vs Scarlets
United Rugby Championship
RDS Arena, Dublin
Saturday, 16th October 2021, 17:15

TV: Live: TG4, Premier Sports

Well it was great to be back at the RDS!

Admittedly it was a low key return in terms of numbers even with the reduced capacity still due to Covid. Just over 10,000 fans were there to watch a fairly standard Leinster win over Zebre. The 1pm kick-off time and the opposition probably depressed the crowd a little bit but hopefully tomorrow's evening kick off time will see a fuller house.

In recent years the opposition would have been more respected too. Scarlets had a couple of great seasons from 2016 to 2018 as they won the Pro14 and made the final the following year, losing to Leinster in the Aviva. And they had success playing some fantastic attacking rugby. They lost some key players after that like Tadhg Beirne and John Barclay and off-field financial issues led to a sharp drop in performances. They still have the odd good performance but they have looked a shadow of the team that electrified the league a few years back.

Their decline was starkly illustrated last week. Munster sent over a pretty inexperienced team and Scarlets were pretty much full strength with their three Lions Gareth Davies, Wyn Jones and Ken Owens all named in the match day squad. However, the game wasn't even a contest as a young Munster team reeled off six tries to win by thirty points. Head coach Dwayne Peel spoke of the team's embarrassment during the week and they will be determined to bounce back tomorrow. Former Leinster academy manager Hugh Hogan joined as their defensive coach at the start of the season and he'll be desperate for a better display back on his old stomping ground.

In fairness the Scarlets are missing a good few big names to injury but Peel has named a team with no shortage of international quality. Wyn Jones and Owens start in the pack alongside other experienced internationals like Aaron Shingler and Blade Thomson and Argentinian international Tomas Lezana makes his debut as openside flanker. There is more quality in the backs with Davies at scrum-half and the outstanding finisher Johnny McNicholl on the right wing. Jonathan Davies continues to captain the team from outside centre.

Two of Leinster's test Lions Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan come in to make their first starts of the season tomorrow. Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher, two players who both came close to the Lions this year in different ways (without ultimately playing) complete the front row with Furlong. James Ryan and Ross Molony are the second row and Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier complete the back row with Conan.

After his extended cameo last week Johnny Sexton starts at out-half and Jamison Gibson-Park is his partner. Ciaran Frawley and Garry Ringrose are in midfield and James Lowe and Hugo Keenan are restored to the back three alongside Jordan Larmour.

The Scarlets will probably be a bit more spirited this week but you still fancy Leinster to win well.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby

Teams Hugo Keenan 15 Ioan Nicholas
Jordan Larmour 14 Johnny McNicholl
Garry Ringrose
13 Jonathan Davies (C)
Ciaran Frawley 12 Johnny Williams
James Lowe
11 Ryan Conbeer
Johnny Sexton (C)
10 Sam Costelow
Jamison Gibson-Park
9 Gareth Davies

Andrew Porter 1 Wyn Jones
Ronan Kelleher 2 Ken Owens
Tadhg Furlong 3 Will Griff John
Ross Molony 4 Lloyd Ashley
James Ryan 5 Sam Lousi
Caelan Doris 6 Aaron Shingler
Josh van der Flier 7 Tomas Lezana
Jack Conan 8 Blade Thomson

Replacements Dan Sheehan 16 Ryan Elias
Cian Healy 17 Rob Evans
Michael Ala'alatoa 18 Samson Lee
Ryan Baird 19 Morgan Jones
Rhys Ruddock20 Shaun Evans
Luke McGrath
21 Kieran Hardy
Ross Byrne 22 Dan Jones
Jimmy O'Brien 23 Tom Rogers

Not Considered
due to Injury
Jack Dunne,
Will Connors,
Tom Clarkson,
Josh Murphy,
Tommy O'Brien,
Dave Kearney,
Michael Milne,
Rory O'Loughlin,
Scott Penny,
Harry Byrne

Liam Williams,
Tom Phillips,
Josh Helps,
Sione Kalamafoni,
Scott Williams,
Josh Macleod,
Rhys Patchell,
James Davies,
Leigh Halfpenny,
Corey Baldwin,
Tomi Lewis,
Tom Prydie,
Carwyn Tuipulotu
Officials Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (SARU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2021-10-15