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Leicester launchpad can bring us lift-off - Easterby

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

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SCARLETS head coach Simon Easterby believes Sunday's morale-boosting LV= Cup victory over Leicester Tigers could act as a significant launchpad for the rest of the region's Pro12 campaign.

With neither side able to progress any further in this Anglo-Welsh tournament, the Scarlets threw off the shackles to produce some outstanding rugby in a 40-19 triumph.

It was a much-needed win for a team who hadn't tasted victory at home since beating the Blues in mid-November.

And Easterby believes taming a Tigers side boasting plenty of Premiership experience will be a huge fillip for his squad ahead of Friday's crucial Pro12 clash with Connacht at Parc y Scarlets.

"There was nothing on the game in terms of gaining a semi-final spot, but for us it was very important to get a result," he said.

"We always knew that during this period we would be minus a few players through injury and international selection so we weren't going to get too carried away with not winning for a few weeks, but it is important to win as well.

"We came up against a fairly experienced Leicester team and the players showed to a man how they can play if they execute accurately. A lot of the hard work we have put in over the last few weeks paid off.

"It was a big win for us going into this block of Pro12 games, which is so important to us."

The Scarlets are likely to be bolstered by the return of experienced forwards George Earle, Rob McCusker and Phil John this week, while a couple of players not needed for Wales's visit to Paris could be released from Rob Howley's Six Nations squad.

However, with talented youngsters like Adam Warren, Rhodri Jones, Owen Williams, Aled Davies and Jake Ball catching the eye against the Tigers, Easterby insists he will pick on form not reputation over the coming weeks.

"I won't be afraid to pick on merit and not on reputation," he insisted. "It is really important for these guys to know that they have a huge couple of months ahead of them and that they could have a huge impact in how we finish the season.

"Hopefully, we will have a lot more players to choose from for Connacht, but after Sunday's performance, we will have to balance between bringing boys back and rewarding some of those excellent individual performances."

Robert Lloyd

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