Scarlets hooker Ken Owens acknowledged the challenge facing his side when they welcome Clermont to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
Scarlets hooker Ken Owens has acknowledges the challenge facing his side when they welcome Clermont to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
The opening salvo of the pair's Heineken Cup double-header finished 32-11 to the Top 14 giants at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, with Owens among those who felt the scoreline flattered the hosts.
But the Wales hooker knows how tough the return fixture will prove to be.
“Clermont are one of the best teams, if not the best team, in Europe,” Owens told the South Wales Evening Post.
“They have a lot of strength in depth and you could see by the size of their pack last weekend, with the likes of Nathan Hines, Gerhard Vosloo, Jamie Cudmore and Julien Bonnaire, that they were going to come at us.
“They picked a big pack to do a job and I thought the boys did absolutely everything out there to stop them because they went through a lot of phases in attack.
“Perhaps on another day we could have come away with a losing bonus point, which not many sides manage over there.
“But we will learn a lot from the experience.
“Clermont felt the effects of the game, too. We have to recover well, turn up at Parc y Scarlets and put in a big performance.
“If we can get something out of the game we are still very much in this group with Racing Metro to come, a side we have shown we can compete with, and then Harlequins at home in our final game, who we have already turned over.
“Perhaps we have taken a step back, but if we get it right on Saturday we are right in there.”
The Scarlets did post some mightily impressive tackle statistics in France, making a whisker shy of 200.
George Earle felled a whopping 26 attackers, while Josh Turnbull and John Barclay boasted 36 between them.
“Not many teams are going to be able to defend like that for 80 minutes, especially against a side of Clermont's quality,” added Owens.
“When we went through phases we looked dangerous as well.
“We have been written off by everyone since the draw was made for this pool. We have improved on last year, but we are looking to improve further again.”