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'I'm allowed go after a ruck if I see it': Tadhg Beirne out to turn over his native province in Pro12 semi

James Davies will not be the only jackal Leinster have to worry about during tomorrow’s semi-final at the RDS.

Image: Craig Watson/INPHO

THOUGH LEINSTER’S 36-point margin of victory when Scarlets last visited the RDS was utterly comprehensive, the Welsh region displayed some encouraging signs that night too.

Tomorrow, Scarlets will attempt to do the impossible by becoming the first away side to win a Pro12 semi-final. It’s a daunting task anywhere, but at the RDS the odds are stacked high against Wayne Pivac’s men.

If they are to succeed then the results of James Davies’ fitness test yesterday will be pivotal. The openside, an Olympic silver medallist with Team GB Sevens last year, was an absolute pest to Leinster’s breakdown efforts  during his last 49 minutes on the RDS paddock. Scarlets remember, trailed just 12 – 9 at the interval that night having coughed up a certain try before Joey Carbery, Ross and Adam Byrne ignited the second half fireworks.

It’s worth noting too that the defeat is one of just two Scarlets have suffered in the Pro12 since mid-September. And having defeated Toulon and drawn with Saracens in their Champions Cup pool, there is no fear in facing Leinster, says  Kildare man Tadhg Beirne, who has been at the heart of Scarlets’ success this season.

“We should have beaten them here,” the ex-Leinster man says of his brush with the back-to-back European Champions.

“We were a bit unlucky at the end. That was massive for our confidence, just knowing that we do have the ability to compete against the top teams in Europe. Obviously Leinster are one of those so we do have to respect their ability but we definitely don’t fear them.”

Though a fit Davies would be a massive boost to the Scarlets’ hopes, Beirne has been another fine example of the poaching ethic Pivac has been preaching.

The 24-year-old sits joint third on the Pro12′s list of turnover threats, level with the Lions’ Justin Tipuric no less.

turnover Source: Pro12

“I think it’s always been there, if I’m being honest. It’s something that I have always enjoyed doing – having a crack at the breakdown. Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve gotten a little bit better at it because I’m allowed go after a ruck if I see it. It gives you that bit more confidence when you’re allowed have a crack.”

“Defensively, he (Pivac) lets us tackle the way we want to tackle and gives us the ability to poach the ball. I think that’s area I can be quite strong at – going over the ball. Then obviously, we like to play an open game, my skill-set helps that. I like to throw the ball around a bit. I enjoy an open game and that’s the way the Scarlets have played this year.”

Tadhg Beirne Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

After an injury-plagued stint with Leinster, Beirne is thriving as he enjoys solid run of fitness in Llanelli and the region has signalled their approval by triggering the option of keeping him for a second year. Understandably, this is not the time for Beirne to even countenance a move back to Ireland or pushing for a spot in Joe Schmidt’s squad. Having shaken off a horrible three-defeat start to the season, he’s focused on making a little bit of tournament history, turning the away semi-finalists’ record from 14 and 0 to 15 and 1.

“I think since those first three games, we know within ourselves that we left a lot of opportunities out there. Especially against Munster in the first game here; we had a lot of two on ones and we didn’t capitalise on them.

“Within ourselves we knew that we had the beating of them and since then, we have just clicked. Everything has worked and gone our way. When we’re at full strength, we look really good. Within the team. There is a lot of confidence that we can get the win on Friday.”

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