Tigers target high fives all round
It’s last chance saloon for the English and Welsh representatives in Pool 3, as nothing less than a bonus-point win here will keep either sides’ hopes alive ahead of the final group games next weekend.
With defending champions Toulon looking unstoppable at the top the pool, Leicester and Scarlets need to win this one while claiming a maximum five-point haul and indeed do likewise again the following week to stand a chance of qualifying as one of the best runners-up.
They both currently lie joint-second in the pool on eight points, which is at least two points less than any of their rivals from the other group as the race hots up for the three best runners-up slots that will secure safe passage through to the knockout stages.
On the balance of form, the Tigers look primed to take the win here, although they lost for only the second time since October (domestically) when going down to Harlequins at the Stoop last weekend.
Victory would set Richard Cockerill’s side up for another ‘cup final’ against Ulster in Belfast next week, where a bonus-point win will most likely be required again to keep their slim chances of a quarter-final berth alive.
Scarlets must hope they can spring a surprise at Welford Road, indeed Llanellis won the corresponding fixture at Parc Y Scarlets in round two, but have failed to register any points on the road in this season’s competition.
While the home side are still missing Dan Cole and Manu Tuilagi through injury, that’s nothing in comparison to the mounting injury crisis at the Scarlets – who will be without at least 10 first-team squad members.
Llanelli’s New Zealand coach Wayne Pivac must plan without the services of the likes of Wales full-back Liam Williams, Fijian wing Michael Tagicakibau and South African lock Joe Snyman as well as hookers Ken Owens and Emyr Phillips and Welsh internationals Samson Lee and Gareth Davies.
Don’t expect fireworks with the two sides boasting the joint-third lowest number of tries scored (5 each) of the 20 teams in this year’s Champions Cup. But take Leicester to do the necessary on the handicap (-15) at 11/10 and leave it all to play for against an already-elminated Ulster at Ravenhil next week.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Friday, January 16 at Welford Road.