Scarlets set their sights on taking famous Euro scalp
A PATCHED-UP Scarlets will look to take their frustration out on Leinster as they go in search of one of European rugby’s biggest shocks tonight.
The West Walians — already out of this year’s tournament after losing their opening four pool matches — face a massive challenge at the RDS, home of the reigning Heineken Cup kings.
Bookmakers, who have seen Simon Easterby’s men struggle of late, make the Scarlets 20-1 outsiders.
If they are to upset the odds, they will need to overcome a growing injury list, plus the memory of their last trip to Ireland, which ended with a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Ulster last week.
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And it does not get any easier for the Scarlets after this, with tournament favourites Clermont Auvergne lying in wait next week.
Easterby said: “We’re entering into two Heineken games — one against the reigning champions, then next week against one of the top two or three sides in the competition — so in three games we’ve played against some of the very best in Europe.
“These games show us where we are as a group. Equally they are important in terms of making a mark to get us back on track for our season ahead.”
The Scarlets will tonight be without Wales centre Jonathan Davies, who features on the bench, while George North is out with the neck injury he suffered against Ulster.
The duo are replaced by Gareth Maule and Kristian Phillips, while Richard Kelly is named at lock.
“We’ve been struggling with injuries and we’ve picked ten backs for the squad from 11 that are currently available in our list for Europe,” added Easterby. “We have only three out-and-out back- rowers to choose from.
“That said, the boys have been working very hard this week. There’s no lack of commitment or effort or will to go out this weekend to Ireland and cause a shock.
“The scoreline last week against Ulster did not reflect the contest. They had a key period early in the second half where they took the game away from us with some individuals making a big impact.
“We then had a number of players coming off which disrupted our momentum with players playing out of position in the back line.”
“Leinster have some key players coming back from injury and have plenty of quality.”
“Parity up front will be key and we have to be better at taking our opportunities.
“We create plenty but our accuracy and execution has been lacking in the last six games.”
Scarlets: L. Williams; A. Fenby, G. Maule, S. Williams, K. Phillips; A. Thomas, T. Knoyle; P. John, K. Owens, J. Adriaanse, G. Earle, R. Kelly, R. McCusker (capt) K. Murphy, J. Turnbull. Reps: M. Rees, R. Jones, S. Lee, J. Synman, S. Timani, G. Davies, J. Davies, A. Warren.
Blues fly-half Jason Tovey will miss today’s Heineken Cup game against Toulon after his puppy chewed up his passport.