Planet Rugby

Preview: Racing Métro v Scarlets

09th January 2014 10:38

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JONATHAN SEXTON RACING METRO SCARLETS

Golden boot: Johnny Sexton

Scarlets boss Simon Easterby has made four changes to his starting lineup for his side's Heineken Cup visit to Racing Métro on Friday.

Aled Thomas replaces Gareth Owen at full-back and Gareth Davies comes in at scrum-half for Rhodri Williams.

In the pack George Earle and Josh Turnbull make way for Johan Snyman and Aaron Shingler at second-row and flanker respectively.

"I think it's important that we finish strongly - we started really well and we'd like to see us finish in the same way," said Easterby.

"The next two weeks are vital; first and foremost is to get some confidence back into the squad but we also need to get some momentum back into the season and get the winning run back again.

"We've contributed to our own downfall in the last three weeks. We've made too many errors, we're not a million miles away but we have to win the tight games - we haven't done that in the last few weeks. We do this first and foremost because we enjoy doing it and losing isn't enjoyable.

"Racing are a physical side - they've showed that at home they are a match for anyone, they've beaten Clermont at home recently and they have the obvious strengths of depth in their squad."

Meanwhile, Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips makes his home debut for Racing, having been signed up by the Parisians last month following his notorious dismissal from Bayonne.

Phillips is one of a number of familiar faces lining up opposite Scarlets, with fellow Wales and Lions international Dan Lydiate named on the blindside.

Johnny Sexton starts in the pivot position, while mercurial Argentine Juan Martin Hernandez is named at inside centre.

Hooker Dimitri Szarzewski misses out altogether, but Virgile Lacombe offers an able deputy in the pack.

Elsewhere, athletic Springbok second-row Juandre Kruger could make an appearance from the bench.

Form: Like the Scarlets, the French side are hoping to end their Heineken Cup campaign on a high having slipped to the bottom of Pool 4.

They have struggled to pose a threat in attack in this year's tournament, having have made fewer carries (62) and metres (258) per match than any other side in the tournament to date. Racing have also had the least amount of average possession per game (11m 49s), the fewest clean breaks (10) and beaten the fewest defenders (24).

The two sides played out a 26-26 draw earlier in the season - their only previous meeting in the Heineken Cup.

The teams:

Racing: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Jonny Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Dan Lydiate, 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Fabrice Metz, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Julien Brugnaut
Replacements: 16 Jerome Maurouard, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Luc Dulcacon, 19 Juandre Kruger, 20 Camille Gerondeau, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Benjamin Dambielle, 23 Alexandre Dumoulin

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Nick Reynolds, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (c), 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Gareth Maule, 23 Jordan Williams

Date: Friday 10th January
Venue: Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Kick-off: 1900 local, 2000 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce (Eng)
Assistant referees: Martin Fox, Robin Goodliffe (both Eng)
TMO: Geoff Warren (Eng)

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