PREVIEW: Leinster v Scarlets
PREVIEW: Leinster v ScarletsSHARE
The four-time Championship winners host the first semifinal on Friday when they face Scarlets while Munster also face Welsh opposition with Ospreys making the trip to Limerick on Saturday.
Unbeaten in Pro12 games at their Dublin home since February 2015, Leinster also boast a formidable record of having never lost any of the six semifinals that they have played at the RDS Arena.
The Blues set new Championship records this season for the most tries scored by a single team – 91 – and most points – 674 – as their attacking play set the bar for others to follow.
However, their opponents, Scarlets, have also lighted up the Championship with their exciting play lethal counter-attacking off stolen ball as they lead the Pro1212 rankings in turnovers.
Their 17 wins this season is also a highest-ever total for the region as they plot to be the first away team to win a semifinal in the Championship.
The game will a host players selected for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand with Leinster calling upon five squad members: Sean O'Brien, Tadhg Furlong, Jack McGrath; Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw while Scarlets include Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams.
Prediction: Leinster have played in seven previous Pro12 semifinals, all at home (six at the RDS Arena), and winning them all. The Leinstermen's 13-17 reversal in Ulster in Round 22 ended a ten game winning streak in the Pro12. Leinster have not been defeated at home in the PRO12 since Newport Gwent Dragons won 16-14 at the RDS Arena in February 2015. Leinster's only defeat to a Welsh Region this season came when they visited Parc y Scarlets in November. Scarlets have reached the semifinals only once before, losing 17-28 at that stage to Ulster in Belfast in 2013. Scarlets only defeat since Round 11 of the Pro12 was 9-45 against Leinster at the RDS Arena in March. The last seven matches between the two sides have all been won by the home team on the day, whilst Scarlets only previous victory y at the RDS Arena came on their first ever visit in October 2007. Leinster have a formidable record and they should win by at least 10 points.
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (captain), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Seán O’Brien, 22 Jamison Gibson-Park, 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, 8 John Barclay (captain), 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans.
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.
Date: Friday, May 19
Venue: RDS Arena, Dublin
Kick-off: 19:45 (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)