'We can repeat Leinster heroics'
SOUTH AFRICAN lock George Earle believes the Scarlets can replicate last season's opening-night victory over Leinster to give themselves another flying start to the RaboDirect Pro12 campaign.
The Scarlets inflicted a 45-20 hammering on the three-times European champions in round one last season — a springboard for a stunning start that saw Simon Easterby's side register 14 league points in their first three matches.
That start proved critical in the final play-off shake-up with the Llanelli-based region holding off the challenge of the Ospreys — who lost their first three matches — to book a place in the top-four shoot-out.
Like last season, Leinster will be shorn of their leading lights when they take the field at Parc y Scarlets on Friday night (7.05).
But even though their Lions contingent is being rested, the defending Pro12 champions are still likely to be stacked with quality with Ireland internationals EoinReddan, Luke Fitzgerald, Kevin McLaughlin and Devin Toner as well as new Kiwi fly-half Jimmy Gopperth expected to feature.
"We are playing the defending champions in the first game, it is not going to be easy and we are going to have to step it up a level, but we beat them last season on our own field and we can do it again," said Earle (right).
"The start was the difference between us and the Ospreys last year, it is crucial. A quality side like the Ospreys lost their first three games and didn't make the play-offs, it shows you have to start well.
"It has been good to get some rugby under our belt in pre-season and even though we lost against Gloucester last weekend, we can go into the match with confidence after our second-half performance. We have to lead from the heart, that's what it's about."
The Scarlets completed their pre-season with a 31-17 defeat at Kingsholm.
After a dismal opening half, there was far more to enthuse about in the second period with the region touching down for three tries.
"We ticked some of the right boxes against Gloucester," added Earle. "We showed we can play if we can hold onto the ball, it is about backing ourselves 100 percent, that is what Scarlets rugby is all about.
"We have to got to start against Leinster like we finished against Gloucester."
The Scarlets will be without centre Gareth Maule for Friday's match. Maule picked up a knee injury midway through the first half.