Friday, March 06, 2015

Preview - Scarlets v Leinster

 

Scarlets by four.

Last week I predicted a Leinster defeat, adding I'd be delighted if I was wrong.  I guess I didn't think it through however, since a dull tryless 9-9 draw wasn't the kind of "wrong" I was hoping for.  

The lacklustre display made me strengthen my resolve for this Scarlets preview...no matter how good our lineup looked on paper, I was determined to predict a home win and see, I put it right up there at the top of the preview to make sure I didn't chicken out.

But it IS a decent Leinster lineup, even better than that put out over the past few weeks....

I mean...the front row of Healy, Cronin and Moore is one that Joe Schmidt would have no qualms fielding in green if the need arose.  And there's certainly plenty of young promising talent in the back row, skippered by Rhys Ruddock.

And in the backs there is certainly plenty of test, Heineken Cup and even NRL grand final experience to call on...and being the third week in a row for the DArcy/Te'o pairing at centre, you'd like to think they're bound to start clicking at some point.

But then you look at the Scarlets who tend to do well at home and have a bit of experience of their own in their 23 like Scott Williams, John Barclay and Rhys Priestland.  And with Connacht being robbed in Cardiff you can bet they'll be sniffing a chance to make ground for that crucial Euro Cup slot.

Then we have our halfbacks.  I'm almost afraid to look back at the stats but I very much doubt Jimmy Gopperth has started with the same scrum half for more than two matches in a row all season.  It's an area where we have been most inconsistent all season, and it looks even worse when you consider the kind of output the Irish test team is getting from 9 and 10.

And finally, there's the MOC factor.  I know there's more than himself in the coaching setup but the buck has to stop somewhere.  For all the experience on the park we need to see Leinster working together on the park and clearly executing a gameplan that's worthy of the match points, and over the past three weeks in particular, that just hasn't happened.

But while ideally I'd like to see a display that's going to give us confidence going towards the business end of the season, the way the Pro12 stands right now, every match is effectively a cup final so I suppose we'll have to take a win any way we can get it!

Yeah...I thought maybe if I harped on for a few paragraphs about the matchups I might talk myself out of my prediction, but I'm just not feeling it.  

Leinster most definitely can win in Llanelli, we have done it before.  But we have also been hockeyed out there (though not as yet under O'Connor) so I'm sticking with my 4-point forecast - we'll need a lot of things clicking at the same time that haven't clicked in a while.  

Over to Matt, Rhys and the lads to prove me wrong in a good way this time.  And of course the lads out in Connacht wouldn't be complaining too much either!

#COYBIB JLP

SCARLETS : 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Regan King, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Aled Davies
1 Phil John, 2 Ken Owens (c) , 3 Peter Edwards, 4 George Earle, 5 Johan Snyman, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 7 James Davies, 8 John Barclay
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne, Rory Pitman, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Adam Warren

Guinness PRO12 Round 17
At Parc y Scarlets, 5.15pm. Live on Sky Sports 
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 67th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris, Chris Williams (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Jeff Mark (WRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)

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