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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Leinster's extra class set to tell against depleted Scarlets

Powerful Cardiff pack take on Munster

Jordan Larmour (left) is one of the Ireland players available to Leinster
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Leinster v Scarlets
Sky Sports Action, 3.15pm Saturday
Cardiff v Munster
Sky Sports Action & S4C, 5.30pm Saturday

Leinster and Scarlets are making the running in Conference B and it's a shame that the teams who last met in the semi-finals last year go head-to-head with their best players missing on international duty.

The effects of their many absences were clear to see in round 14. Leinster's five-match winning run came to an end in Edinburgh while Scarlets, whose only defeats in this campaign have come away to Ulster and Cheetahs, were beaten by Benetton in Italy.

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac has made two changes to his pack following that loss but has had to stick largely to the same second-string line-up.

Leinster have been more fortunate in that several fringe members of Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad are available to them, including Sean Cronin and Jordan Larmour who came off the bench against Italy last month, as well as Luke McGrath and Jordi Murphy.

That difference in class makes handicaps in the mid-teens quite understandable, and by the end this should be a comfortable home win.

Cardiff's clash with Munster is a similar tale of missing players, although the Blues look to have a powerful pack with experienced Wales pair Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees in the front row alongside powerhouse Taufa'ao Filise while Nick Williams starts at number eight.

Munster have Ireland fly-half Ian Keatley available and the game is as hard to call as the three-point handicap suggests.

Recommendation
Leinster to win by 21 to 30 points
1pt 7-2 Betfair


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Leinster have been more fortunate in that several fringe members of Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad are available to them
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