Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brive v Scarlets preview

The Scarlets hope to have fly-half Stephen Jones and hooker Matthew Rees available for their crucial final Heineken Cup Pool 6 game in Brive.

Wales duo Jones (shoulder) and Rees (groin) were on the sidelines as the region grabbed a lifeline in Sunday's 31-22 win over London Irish.

Flanker Rob McCusker scored twice against the Exiles said: "We've got to be confident after that.

"We can take a lot out of it. But we have a lot to work on."

The Scarlets have an outside chance of quarter-final qualification. A bonus-point win will see them leap-frog London Irish to claim second place on 18 points, providing the Exiles fail to beat group leaders Leinster.
Depending on results elsewhere, the Welsh region could equally find themselves battling for a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

The six group winners and two best runner-ups progress into the Heineken Cup last eight, while the next three qualify for European rugby's second-tier competition.

The Scarlets began this season's European campaign with a 24-12 win over the French side.

Brive, who include ex-Scarlets back-row Alix Popham in their ranks, have since failed to record a win in this season's competition.

The 1997 tournament winners have lost heavily twice to Leinster and London Irish and are lying ninth in the French Top 14 with eight wins from 18 starts.

The Scarlets' Magners League form is also a concern, also lying ninth, but with only Connacht below them, having won only three games in 10.

North Walian McCusker, 24, added: "We've never given up on this competition. We've said we could get something out of it.

"We wanted to carry on the performance from last week and we're going to do our best to carry on next week.

"Traditionally people don't think French teams travel well, but it's going to be a totally different game in France, in Brive and it's an intimidating place to go.

"They've got a great tradition from the Heineken Cup in previous year."

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