Scarlets revived their bodies after a physical game against Racing 92 last weekend and prepared to face the best of the best tonight at the RDS Arena for a remake of last years final against Leinster but this time in a wet and windy atmosphere.
With several internationals away at the Welsh Six Nations camp, Pivac names a strong squad despite this, with several new bodies in the starting XV giving them a chance to showcase their talents. Having said this Warren Gatland has released forward Jake Ball to be available for selection as he takes his place at number 4 for the first time since his injury. Captaincy for tonight's game goes to Steff Hughes.
First half began with a strong attacking game from both parties with no points on the board. Scarlets quick injury replacement saw David Bulbring replaced by Josh Helps within the first few minutes. Thirty minute mark with Leinster gaining their first penalty. The home team took us into half time on the lead with a converted try and a penalty difference.
Second half began with a fiery side from the Scarlets with Paul Asquith making a remarkable breakthrough for the try line but it was disallowed from TMO. But it wasn’t long till scrum half Kieran Hardy crossed the whitewash. Both teams battled till the last whistle, but the welcoming home team came out on top after two tries in the second half.
First few minutes of the game see Scarlets penalty after a high tackle, Dan Jones kicked us to the corner. Leinster went on to turnover the ball to gain possession. A long phase of play with Scarlets attacking saw David Bulbring sent off with a knee injury. First scrum of the game set the tone for the rest of the match where both teams weren’t moving or giving in. The welcoming team gain possession and the sea of red bodies line up to show their defensive side. We see a great interception from Ioan Nicholas but with no support around was stopped in his tracks.
Going into the first quarter of the match it’s still 0 points on the board and it’s anybody’s game. Dan kicks us down to the corner to gain territory, the boys in blue gained possession but closely afterwards perform a knock on and it’s a red scrum. McNicholl makes a sprint down but it was a knock on. Closing up to the thirty minute mark and Leinster put their first points on the board with a penalty kick.
After several phases of play down in Leinster’s 22’, the home team manage to turnover and gain territory as well as drive as Rory O’Loughlin makes it over the white wash, with a successful conversion from Ciaran Frawley.
Half Time : Leinster 8 Scarlets 0
Second half began with a Leinster kick down field which lands in Paul Asquith’s hands and straight down the field he goes and over the line. But TMO decision stands and it’s a no try as grounding was not performed. Scarlets possession from a line out sees Dan Jones lining up his first kick for a penalty due to not rolling away, it was a miss due to strong winds.
Minutes after McNicholl picks up speed and passes over to youngster Dan Davis who has support from scrum-half Kieran Hardy who crosses the white wash for the Scarlets first try, which was converted successfully by Dan Jones.
Captain Steff Hughes is replaced by Tom Prydie, and Jake Ball takes the reigns. Scarlets are given a penalty due to a high tackle and Dan Jones kicks us down to the corner to gain some territory. Another high tackle from the men in blue gives us another penalty kick and Dan puts another 3 points on the board.
Several minutes of play down in our 22’ and the home team cross the line but it was held up. Pivac put’s Dafydd Hughes, Simon Gardiner, Dylan Evans and Ed Kennedy on the pitch for some new blood. But a dip in play and Leinster’s James Lowe makes his way over the whitewash.
Less than a minute after Lowe’s try, Leinster cross over for another try for Barry Daly and converted by Ciaran Frawley.
Both teams on fire in these last few minutes as McNicholl yet again takes a huge run down the field and sends a final pass to Kieran Hardy who crosses the line right under the posts, and later converted by Dan Jones.
The clock turns red but the phase of play continues as the Scarlets continue to drive, but a turnover ball from the home team sees the match come to an end with Leinster out on top.
Final Score: Leinster 22 Scarlets 17
Man of the Match: Ross Molony