Pro14 final: Scarlets boosted by 'defensively perfect' Halfpenny - Ken Owens

Leigh Halfpenny injured his hamstring in the quarter-final win over Cheetahs
Leigh Halfpenny injured his hamstring in the quarter-final win over Cheetahs
Pro14 final: Leinster v Scarlets
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 26 May Kick-off: 18:00 BST
Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Scarlets hooker Ken Owens says the return to fitness of "perfect" Leigh Halfpenny is a major boost ahead of Saturday's Pro14 final with Leinster.

Wales and British and Irish Lions star Halfpenny starts at full-back for the defending champions after injuring a hamstring in the quarter-finals.

Owens captains Scarlets in Dublin with number eight John Barclay injured.

"Leigh holds everything together at the back. Defensively he is perfect," said Owens.

"Attacking wise he has developed his game over the past year.

"Johnny Sexton will be kicking a lot and to have Halfpenny, who is the best in the world under a high ball, is great."

Leinster welcome back Lions fly-half Sexton, who missed the Munster semi-final through injury.

The European champions beat Scarlets in the Champions Cup semi-finals and return to the scene of that game at the Aviva Stadium.

Hurtful defeat

Although Owens admits that defeat hurt, they still have the good memories of beating Munster there last year to win the Pro14 title, although Owens missed that triumph injured.

"I was disappointed to miss out on the semi-final and final last year but injuries happen and that is rugby," Owens said.

"We have been to Dublin before and won but we also have been here and had a hiding, so we have to have that fear in the back of our head.

"After that game we looked back at things and learned a lot and seen what went wrong.

"We have built that momentum over the last three weeks. I am happy with how the boys have developed but we are going to have to go up a level on Saturday.

"Hopefully we can spread the ball a little bit more than last time in the European semi-final. We got taken aback by the physicality and they won that battle.

"When we did get the ball, we were like rabbits in the headlights and trying to force it and we have learned from that.

"We know it's about the battle of the gainline in the first 20 minutes and trying to get front ball for our backs to try and get in the wide channels and run at Leinster because we did not do that last time."

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