Scarlets set for Tigers showdown
January 14, 2011
Leicester's Thomas Waldrom is tackled by the Scarlets' Sean Lamont during their clash earlier this season © Getty Images
The Scarlets and Leicester are set for a mouth-watering Heineken Cup showdown at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
Back-to-back bonus point victories over win-less Treviso saw the Scarlets take control of Pool 5 but both Leicester and Perpignan emerged from their recent double header with their quarter-final hopes intact.
The Scarlets must travel to Perpignan in the final round of Pool matches - with Leicester hosting Treviso - and, as a result, the pressure is on the hosts to secure substantial reward for their efforts on Saturday. But they face an in-form Tigers side who also powered to a 46-10 victory when the Scarlets visited Welford Road in October.
The Scarlets were brought down to earth following their most recent euro victories with a Magners League drubbing at the hands the Ospreys but they have since righted the ship with wins against the Dragons and Edinburgh. Leicester have also been in impressive form with victories over Leeds and Exeter as well as a headline-grabbing win against Premiership title rivals Northampton.
Scarlets - Player to Watch: Stephen Jones is fit to return at fly-half and his European experience will be absolutely vital within what is a youthful Scarlets side.
Scarlets - Team News: Jones' return sees Rhys Priestland shift to fullback, while youngsters Rob McCusker and Josh Turnbull are joined in the back-row by the experienced David Lyons. Regan King and Jonathan Davies will pose a threat in midfield.
Leicester - Player to Watch: Thomas Waldrom has quickly become a key part of Leicester's gameplan and the former Crusaders back-row's huge carries will be vital against a Scarlets side comfortable with a fast and loose approach.
Leicester - Team News: Scott Hamilton is named at fullback in place of the injured Geordan Murphy, who is replaced as skipper by lock Louis Deacon. Prop Boris Stankovich is named among the replacements after injury.
Key Battle: The Scarlets will know all too well that they cannot launch their dangerous runners without the ball. Their scrum and lineout will need to function and they will have to guarantee their share of possession on the floor against an aggressive Tigers back-row.
Trivia: Injured fullback Geordan Murphy is Leicester's all-time leading Heineken Cup tryscorer with 23 to his name.
Stats: The Scarlets and Leicester have met on five previous occasions in the Heineken Cup with the Tigers claiming victory in all but one of those games.
"We are at home where we have a very good home record, and we all know we let ourselves down in the round two match at Welford Road." - Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies targets an 80-minute performance.
"If we don't win, we are out. We really have to win the next two games to go through. It doesn't take a genius to work that out." - Leicester boss Richard Cockerill insists it is win-or-bust for his side.
Prediction: The Tigers are building up an impressive head of steam that should see them account for the Scarlets and power towards the quarter-finals.
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