PRO 14 Final – Leinster v Scarlets – Five Key Battles
With the PRO14 final once again upon us, we will be blessed with an encounter between the finest of Scottish and Welsh rugby on Saturday. Each team enjoyed terrific campaigns, although the stories of their semi-finals were different. As Scarlets confidently put the Glasgow Warriors (the team with the best regular season record) away 28-13, Leinster experienced a tighter affair in their all-Irish clash with Munster. Munster pushed Leinster right to the final whistle, being ultimately defeated by the smallest of margins – 16-15 the score. With the Aviva Stadium poised to play host to one of domestic rugby’s greatest climaxes, here are the five key battles that could decide the winner:
1. Leinster's all-star backs vs Scarlets' defences
Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Rob Kearney, Isa Nacewa. It’s a superb backs division, and will require resolute defence from Scarlets all afternoon.
2. Scarlets' wingers vs Leinster's perimeters
Leinster can’t afford to play narrowly on Saturday. If Steff Evans or Johnny McNicholl are afforded even a slither of green grass, they’ll be off to the races.
3. Leinster's discipline vs Rhys Patchell's boot
If Leinster can’t remain disciplined in and around the ruck, then Scarlets’ Rhys Patchell will happily tee up all day long and aim for the posts.
4. Scarlets' discipline vs Johnny Sexton's boot
(See: slide three). Sexton boasts one of the most reliable right boots in world rugby, so ill-discipline would be equivalent to just giving points away.
The packs of these two sides are stacked to the rafters with stars. I’d recommend keeping eyes on the two front rows – Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong could dominate proceedings for Leinster from the kickoff.