ERCC Semi Final 1: Leinster v Scarlets Preview

ERCC Semi Final 1: Leinster v Scarlets Preview
Scarlets will have to put in a performance for the ages if they are to topple Champions Cup favourites Leinster, when they cross the Irish Sea for Saturday’s semi-final at the Aviva Stadium, writes Shaun Goosen. 

Leinster vs Scarlets
Saturday 21 April, 16:30.
Aviva Stadium

To Win (80 mins) *Forecast betting- Prices to be added upon release 
Leinster 1/6
Draw 22/1
Scarlets 7/2

Handicap *Forecast betting- Handicaps to be added upon release 
Leinster -11 (10/11)
Scarlets +11 (10/11)

Coincidently, the Welshmen find themselves in a similar position as they did during last season’s Pro12, in an away semi-final against Leinster, going in as underdogs.

In that encounter on the 19th of May last year, it was the men from Llanelli that proceeded to blow their much-favoured opponents out of the water in a sensational 27-15 victory. Indeed, it was that very performance which laid the platform for their title triumph against Munster a week later, going on to produce some of the most ambitious attacking football you are ever likely to see.

This weekend, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. While Wayne Pivac’s charges have been solid enough again this campaign (having topped Pool 5 and currently sitting pretty in second-position on the Pro14 Conference B standings), they will face their greatest challenge yet in Leo Cullen’s settled Leinster line-up.

While many believed the side of a year ago to be championship-winning material, they ultimately fell in the last four of both the Champions Cup and Pro12. The months since then, however, have seen Leinster go up a gear, with their performances prompting many pundits to suggest that they may well indeed claim a coveted “double” at season’s end. With names such as Jonathan Sexton, Rob Kearney, Sean O’Brien, and Garry Ringrose, they’d be hard to bet against.

In such a monumental tie, Scarlets will again lament the losses of the injured Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams (the latter now turning out for Saracens). The two British Lions were untouchable in Scarlets’ Pro12 title win in 2017, and the Welshmen are all the poorer for their absences. Their backline simply hasn’t been the same this season.

Verdict: Leinster -11 (10/11)*Forecast betting- Handicaps to be added upon release 
Scarlets were in fine touch during their 29-17 quarter-final triumph over La Rochelle in late March but will struggle against a more structured Leinster team. In spite of their second-stringers going down 15-17 at home to lowly Benetton on the weekend, the hosts’ veterans should stand and deliver at the Aviva this Saturday. Lightning won’t strike twice. Not in Cullen country.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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