SCAR­LETS

The Rugby Paper - - Analysis -

EURO SEA­SON SO FAR: Nerves set in a lit­tle against La Rochelle in their home quar­ter-fi­nal but Scar­lets have learned not to panic this sea­son and even­tu­ally pulled through. Re­mem­ber this is the side that lost their first two pool matches against Toulon and Bath be­fore do­ing the dou­ble over Benet­ton, and even in that head-to­head they en­joyed a lit­tle luck in a very close en­counter at Parc Y Scar­lets. The Welsh side’s away win over Bath how­ever was one of the most im­pres­sive per­for­mances of the qual­i­fy­ing rounds and they were in steely mood in Round 6 to fin­ish the job at home to Toulon. SEMI-FI­NAL HIS­TORY: Three los­ing ap­pear­ances as the Scar­lets, the most re­cent be­ing 11 years ago at Le­ices­ter’s Walk­ers Sta­dium where Tigers won 33-17. A young Ken Owens was on the bench when Le­ices­ter, with fly­half Andy Good con­tribut­ing 23 points, were just too good on the day. Llanelli had gone much closer in their other semi-fi­nals, los­ing a crack­ing game to even­tual cham­pi­ons Northamp­ton 31-28 at the Made­jski Sta­dium in 2000, while there was that never-to-be-for­got­ten thriller at the City Ground, Not­ting­ham in 2002 when they came ag­o­nis­ingly close, los­ing 13-12 to a late 50 me­tre penalty from Tim Stimp­son that bounced off the cross bar and post be­fore drop­ping the right side of the wood­work for Tigers. STARMEN: Scar­lets are more than the sum of their in­di­vid­ual parts but Leigh Half­penny will need to be per­fect of the tee, Gareth Davies at his snip­ing best and Hadleigh Parks pulling it al­to­gether be­hind the scrum. Tadgh Beirne is a mas­ter at dis­rupt­ing mauls while John Bar­clay will spear­head a mighty back row ef­fort. COACH’S COR­NER: For­mer Fiji and Auck­land coach Wayne Pi­vac has done some great work re-en­er­gis­ing Scar­lets and get­ting them back to their at­tack­ing best. Stephen Jones is a fine lieu­tenant and By­ron Hay­ward has added some steel to the de­fence.

Tee-time: Leigh Half­penny

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