The Scarlets host French super side Racing Metro at their home Parc y Scarlets on Saturday evening as they look to back up their sensational first round win in the Heineken Cup with another big performance in front of their home crowd.
After a defiant 26-33 three-try victory over English Premiership side Harlequins away from home last weekend, it’s a warm return to their home for West Wales’ first big European rugby event of the season.
Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby has told his players not to waste the opportunity they’ve created with a win away from home and make sure they back up a positive result with a solid performance on home soil.
With the Scarlets currently enjoying seeing their name at the top of Pool Four said; Simon Easterby said: “We’ve got our feet on the ground but there’s no doubt last weekend’s performance has boosted confidence and spirits and getting a win in Europe was a mental hurdle we needed after last season. But it won’t mean anything if we don’t perform to a level against Racing.
“This is a big opportunity for us to kick on and in front of our home crowd, not fear what big sides with larger resources can bring to this tournament. If we get our house in order and we’re at our best, we know we can match the top sides.”
Easterby said that after simmering so far this season, his Scarlets side hit boiling point up in Twickenham with strong set-piece platform and some exciting counter attack in the region’s game thanks to the hard work being done by Scarlets and Wales Attack Coach Mark Jones.
Easterby said: “When you have backs of the quality and talent of Liam Williams, Scott Williams, Jordan Williams, Rhys Priestland and Jon Davies in your group, then you know you’re going to try and play a certain way and Mark Jones has put in a lot of hard work into developing the counter attack in our game.
“We respect that we are coming up against a very dogged Racing side which showed how well they can defend and hold their opponents – they haven’t conceded many tries this season and the threats from their scrum and driving line-outs are clear to see.
“Add to that the quality of players they have in their ranks and the depth of squad at their disposal and we acknowledge this is a huge challenge in front of us. They have great individual players in their squad and are starting to gel more as a team.
“We’ll need to play to our strengths as a group, be able to adapt our game, and bring the same intensity and accuracy we had in round one for the full 80 minutes.”
As the excitement of Heineken Cup action comes to heart and soul rugby country in West Wales, Parc y Scarlets will host a range of activities and entertainment in the hours leading up to kick-off on Saturday evening.
The Scarlets’ popular Supporters Village will open three hours before kick-off for rugby supporters to soak up the pre and post match atmosphere in the comfort of an indoor venue. Match day junior festivals and skills sessions will take place and the 'Village' includes an adult bar area, a family 'beer garden' bar area. There’s plenty to keep children occupied with rugby themed inflatables, face painting and refreshments. There is also mouth-watering hog roast and snacks to suit all ages.
Saturday's entertainment includes local singer Chris Jones in the Supporters Village, Milford Haven Town Band will entertain crowds pitchside and in the South Concourse, the voice of the Scarlets Hanna Morgan will be warming up supporters to create a buzz at Parc y Scarlets. Adult tickets start at £14 with juniors at just £5.
Easterby called on the Scarlets’ faithful to support the team live at Parc y Scarlets he said: “It’s going to be a huge night for us and great for everyone coming to Parc y Scarlets – let’s hope our home crowd turn out for our players and lift them like last weekend and enjoy being a big part of another memorable Heineken Cup battle.”
International hooker Ken Owens is still on the side-lines with an abdominal strain and club captain, back rower Rob McCusker is also not available this weekend with a calf injury so Easterby keeps the back row combination of Josh Turnbull at no8 alongside Aaron Shingler and John Barclay.
There are two changes to the starting line-up that beat Harlequins at The Stoop last weekend; Nick Reynolds comes onto the wing to replace the injured Kristian Phillips with South African Prop Jacobie Adriaanse coming into the starting XV for Samson Lee who was handed a two-week ban following a disciplinary this week.