Leinster v Scarlets: Key talking points ahead of PRO12 semi-final
Last Updated: 19/05/17 10:52pm
We look at the talking points ahead of Friday's Guinness PRO12 semi-final between Leinster and the Scarlets at the RDS, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7.30pm.
The Scarlets head to the Irish capital with five straight wins under their belt, their last defeat coming against Friday's opponents at the RDS at the beginning on March.
Leinster ran out comprehensive winners that day, putting 45 points on Wayne Pivac's side, but the Scarlets have proved they are not ones to shy away from a challenge.
They have put in some impressive performances against formidable opposition this season, none more so than in the Champions Cup where they secured a victory over a star-studded Toulon outfit and held back-to-back champions Saracens to a draw.
Since the introduction in 2009/10 of semi-finals and a final after the regulation league season has ended, an away side has never won a semi-final tie.
A total of 14 semi-finals have been played since the 2009/10 campaign, yet staggeringly, all 14 have gone the way of the home sides.
Ulster, Glasgow, Ospreys, Munster, and the Scarlets have all fallen short on the road over the years while Leinster, having never had to travel on semi-final day, have won all six of their last-four encounters.
The Scarlets will be without their captain Ken Owens for the semi-final. The British and Irish Lions hooker is believed to have picked up an ankle injury in training this week with John Barclay captaining the side in his absence.
Their opponents Leinster will continue to be without Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip for the showdown at the RDS on Friday, and although they have been boosted by return of Robbie Henshaw, Sean O'Brien is a late withdrawal due to a tight calf.
Henshaw will pair up with Garry Ringrose in the centres while they will also be able to call upon the 110 appearances worth of experience O'Brien from the bench if and when he is needed, while Sean Cronin is another big name missing from the Leinster teamsheet due to a neck problem.
Big game experience
Leinster are no strangers to the business end of the season having failed to reach the knockout stages of this competition, featuring in seven of the eight finals since the competition took on its current format.
The one blemish on their record came back in 2014/15 when they finished fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Ulster.
For the Scarlets, they have only one semi-final appearance behind them where they fell to a 28-17 defeat to Ulster.
The perfect send-off
A number of familiar Scarlets faithful are bidding farewell to the club at the end of this campaign and they will want to send their stars off in the best possible fashion.
Those heading for the door include British and Irish Lion Liam Williams, Canadian flyer DTH van der Merwe and club stalwarts Peter Edwards and Aled Thomas - who have racked up over 182 appearances for the region between them.
While they were given a fitting send off in front of a 13,326 strong crowd at the Parc y Scarlets for the record win over the Ospreys they will be keen to make their first ever final and give their departing heroes a shot at some silverware.
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath; 1 Jack McGrath, 2 James Tracy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Ross Molony, 5 Hayden Triggs, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny Mcnicholl, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 James Davies, 8 John Barclay (c).
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Hadleigh Parkes, 23 DTH van der Merwe.