Belfast Telegraph

Scarlets aiming to avenge Champions Cup defeat by turning Leinster over at home in PRO14 final

By Cian Tracey

Ken Owens doesn't shirk the reality - his Scarlets side were out-fought, out-thought, and beaten out the gate on their last visit to the Aviva Stadium.

By the time the Welsh outfit return to the scene of their obliteration by Leinster, five weeks will have passed. There has been a lot of soul-searching since.

There is no shame in being beaten in a Champions Cup semi-final by the eventual winners, in their own back yard, but barely firing a shot will have hurt a Scarlets team who believe they can mix it with the best.

The brand of rugby that the Scarlets played in their stunning Guinness PRO12 success last season was thrilling to watch, but they were humbled by Leinster in Europe.

"I think in big play-off games like that you've got to turn up physically and hold on to the ball," captain Owens said, reflecting on the 38-16 defeat last month.

"I think Leinster did that pretty well and attacked for nine minutes in our 22, and when you're playing a side like that who hold onto the ball for as long as they did and continued to get gain line in our 22 for nine minutes, it's no wonder they scored their five tries.

"That was a big learning for us, we turned too much ball over and obviously in rugby if you lose the battle of the gain line you're going to be in for a long day.

"So I think that was the biggest lesson for us.

"We spoke about last year, that if we were going to get to the final we'd have to win an away semi-final and we managed to do it. The boys are pretty confident in their abilities. Going to the Aviva again won't hold any fears.

"Winning against Munster (in last year's final), the boys enjoyed it who started that day, but we were disappointing the last time we went to the Aviva.

"That hasn't been entirely wiped from our memories, it is niggling there slightly, and we're looking to right the wrongs from that. But we're just happy to be involved at this stage of the season once again and going to Dublin, having everything to gain."

The Scarlets have bounced back well since being dumped out of Europe and the manner of their win in Glasgow in last week's semi-final win will have Leinster on red alert.

Of all the teams that the Blues could have faced in Saturday's decider, the electric Scarlets are the one team that will punish any potential fatigue, both mental and physical.

"I think you know you're not going to win every game cruising through," Owens maintained. "I think we've learned from the Leinster defeat.

"We're always evolving as a side and we hope to show that this weekend."

Belfast Telegraph

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