Once bitten... Wayne Pivac has suffered at the hands of Leinster one time too many in a major knockout game at the Aviva Stadium and the Scarlets boss is determined to avoid a repeat in tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 final.
The league’s defending champions return to Dublin a little over a month after being blown away by Leo Cullen’s side in a one-sided Champions Cup semi-final.
Scarlets lost 38-16 at the Aviva on April 21 and head coach Pivac, who had enjoyed his finest hour in the same stadium 11 months earlier when the Welsh region swept Munster away in the PRO12 final, bitterly regrets that his side had been on the wrong end of similar treatment without landing a punch of their own.
It was Scarlets’ first European semi-final since 2007 and to have missed that opportunity so badly has preyed on the New Zealander’s mind since.
“If you look at what we’ve done last season and this season, there hasn’t been too many games when we haven’t fronted up physically like that,” Pivac said.
“We looked at it and we asked did we press too many emotional buttons? We had a good look at our preparations and everything that went into that particular week and we’d like to think that won’t happen again.
“Clearly, two things happened on that particular occasion — Leinster played very, very well and they tactically got it right. They implemented their plan really, really well and they brought the physicality necessary to do that.
"But out boys have well and truly moved on and we’ve had a couple of pretty good performances heading in the right direction.”
Pivac has no problem endorsing Leinster’s credentials as the best team in Europe following their unbeaten run to claim the Champions Cup.
“100%,” the Scarlets boss said.
"And then in poor conditions to manage that (final) and come out on top when it really mattered at the end, They thoroughly deserved it and are setting the benchmark.”
The noises from Leinster suggest the European champions expect Scarlets will pose a tougher challenge in defence of their PRO14 title than they offered in Europe a month ago, and naturally Pivac hopes that proves the case.
“We’ve both progressed from last season and most observers would think they weren’t expecting that (Champions Cup semi-final) result and most would think it probably wouldn’t happen twice — but stranger things have happened.
"It’s up to us to front up on Saturday and prove that theory right. Look, there’s a lot of quality in our side and obviously vast quality in the Leinster side, so there’s a mutual respect there I think.
"We would like to certainly put some of the wrongs from that semi-final right and hopefully we can do that. It’s nice to hear that they think we might be posing a few more problems than we did last time.”
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