Friday 15 December 2017

Boost for Blues as Te'o is available for Scarlets clash

Leinster's Ben Te'o
Leinster's Ben Te'o

As Leinster prepare for The Scarlets away tomorrow evening (KO 5.15, Sky Sports 1), they must mull over the fact that at this time last year they had harvested 19 out of 20 points from the same block of four matches.

It was the cornerstone of their drive for a home run in the play-offs and, maybe, the difference between locking the PRO12 League trophy into the cabinet and not. So far, they have taken nine out of a possible 15, from their defeat to The Dragons at home (that could prove so costly in the wash-up), their bonus-point win over Zebre and a draw away to The Ospreys last Friday night.

This is not Championship winning form.

Matt O'Connor will take his men to West Wales at a time when The Scarlets are counting the cost of their indifferent form. At present, they reside outside the coveted sixth place and an automatic qualification for The Champions Cup.

They are six points short of Connacht and two above Edinburgh. They have little wriggle room.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams available for head coach Wayne Pivac. This pales into significance set beside the likely release of the front row of Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Marty Moore and scrum-half Eoin Reddan.

There is the added positivity from the availability of Ben Te'o (pictured), who was cleared of a sanction from his citing for what you might call a Mathieu Bastareaud carry against The Ospreys, otherwise known as leading with the arm.

From the remainder of Leinster's half-dozen regular season matches, they will have to travel away from Dublin four times to The Scarlets, The Dragons, Ulster and Edinburgh.

This is a meaty menu which will take a committed undertaking to overcome as they currently hold the fourth rung on the ladder.



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