Preview: Scarlets v Racing 92

Date published: November 20 2015

Scarlets captain Ken Owens makes a return from injury to lead the team in the Champions Cup home fixture against Racing 92 on Saturday.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has made three changes to the side that narrowly lost against Northampton Saints away from home last weekend with captain Owens returning to the front-row alongside Phil John who comes in for Rob Evans.

The only change in the backline is at fly-half with young Dan Jones handed his first Champions Cup start. Aled Thomas continue at full-back.

The replacements bench includes Dylan Evans and newcomer Michael Collins looking for their first Champions Cup encounter and Steffan Evans who makes a return from an elbow dislocation.

"Following last week's result what is a comfort to us is that we all feel that we're not too far off. We've made steady progress and that's what we're trying to do each week. I think we're heading in the right direction," Pivac said earlier in the week.

"The first two games are vital in this tournament and it's important that we get some points on the board early or otherwise we're chasing the pack.

"The fact that we didn't get four points last weekend puts more significance on this game. This evening's game is very much a must win situation.

"We're expecting a big battle up front from Racing 92 and having a couple of players coming back from injury is good. We'll be slightly stronger than last week."

Meanwhile, Racing 92 have brought in Casey Laulala at outside centre as Henry Chavancy moves to twelve in place of the absent Alexandre Dumoulin.

Up front there is a new-look front-row to the one that was set to start last weekend as Cedate Gomes Sa, Dimitri Szarzewski and Julien Brugnaut replace Ben Tameifuna, Camille Chat and Eddy Ben Arous at tighthead, hooker and loosehead prop respectively for the away game.

Form: Scarlets are undefeated in their two clashes with Racing 92, winning away and drawing at home in the 2013/14 tournament. Scarlets have won two of their last three Champions Cup matches on home soil, although that one loss came against French opposition (v Toulon). Racing 92 have won one and drawn two of their last four matches against Welsh opposition in the Champions Cup. In six games between Racing 92 and teams from Wales the final points margin has never been more than 6 points.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Maselno Paulino, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Tom Price, 20 Lewis Rawlins, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Mike Collins, 23 Steff Evans.

Racing 92: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Bernard Le Roux, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (c), 1 Julien Brugnaut.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Thibault Dubarry, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Juan Imhoff, 23 Brice Dulin.

Date: Saturday, November 21
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards (England), Peter Allan (Scotland)
TMO: Keith Lewis (England)