The Scarlets will be looking to put right last season’s trio of defeats to Leinster tomorrow night as the Irish travel to Parc y Scarlets for a top-billing Magners League encounter – (Friday 3rd December 2010 kick-off 7.05pm, Parc y Scarlets).
The hosts will field a strong side to take on Leinster which will include the option of creating added impact with international outside half Stephen Jones and Wales hooker and captain Matthew Rees as well as Fijian captain and front row stalwart Deacon Manu on the bench for the fixture.
Scarlets and Wales new wing sensation George North is rested with a bruise to his shoulder picked up last weekend against the All Blacks as is Scottish international Sean Lamont who has a bruised hip. Impressive back row forward Josh Turnbull returns from injury, as does powerful winger Joe Ajuwa with the experienced former Wallaby international and Scarlets no8 David Lyons captaining the side.
Scarlets starting XV v Leinster, Friday 3rd December, Parc y Scarlets kick-off 7.05pm: Dan Newton, Morgan Stoddart, Gareth Maule, Regan King, Joe Ajuwa, Rhys Priestland, Tavis Knoyle, Phil John, Ken Owens, Peter Edwards, Damian Welch, Dominic Day, Josh Turnbull, Johnathan Edwards, David Lyons (capt).
Replacements: Matthew Rees, Rhodri Jones, Deacon Manu, Rob McCusker, Ben Morgan, Martin Roberts, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams.
With a focus on their Magners League performances, the Scarlets have now exceeded the total number of league points they achieved last season – and are placed 2ndin the Magners League with 30 points (29 in total 2009/2010 season). They have won six out of their nine Magners League games so far and are two points behind leaders Munster and know Friday night is a crucial fixture for the home side.
The Scarlets last win against Leinster (18-16) was in the opening game last season at Parc y Scarlets following on from an inspiring and emotional event to unveil the iconic bronze sculpture of Scarlets rugby legend Ray Gravell outside the main entrance to the stadium.
And the Scarlets will be looking to be inspired by a home tie and crowd once again, with Head Coach Nigel Davies telling his team to step it up against the former European Champions and two times Magners League winners – with eyes on maintaining a top Magners League position before the next series of Heineken Cup games.
Davies said: "The squad are really energised at the moment on the back of some good performances and are showing growing confidence and self-belief – exemplified by the way we turned the game around in Aironi last week. We were frustrated we didn't control large parts of that game. But what was pleasing is that we had enough quality to finish off when the opportunities came and secured a bonus point win away from home through by sheer ability and self-belief.
"But success in the league is all about consistency and bringing that to our performances week-in week-out. A win tomorrow night will keep us in the top section of the league and that is the target.
"We had a couple of bashings from Leinster last season, which was really frustrating for us and we're keen to put that right. They'll come with confidence knowing they scored well against us and we're fully aware of how much real quality they have and that they are a big danger whatever side they bring.
"However, we like to think we are a different proposition this time round. There are a lot of good things happening here, there is self-belief and solid determination in this squad, they are playing with pride for the Scarlets shirt and the competition we have is pushing things on and adding to the momentum we've generated so far this season.
"Our internationals were offered a week's rest but wanted to come back early and be part of our group again and it's great that we have proud Scarlets players with big reputations like Stephen and Matthew available to affect a game when required."
Thanks to Parc y Scarlets state-of-the-art pitch technology complete with under soil heating, stadium bosses do not expect the fixture to be affected by the freezing conditions unlike other games in the league.
All access areas and pedestrian zones will be fully gritted and cleared in advance of the game on Friday evening. Please check the Scarlets website for any match-day updates relating to the weather conditions at www.scarlets.co.uk