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Pool 1 winners La Rochelle will be aiming to reach their first European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final on Friday night when they travel to face Pool 5 winners Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets, live on BT Sport.
The French debutants have lit up this season’s competition, winning their opening three Pool stage matches before overcoming a pair of defeats to qualify as Pool winners with a Round 6 victory over Harlequins.
They have scored a competition high of seven tries from kick returns in the pool stage, 39% of their total tries scored.
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) March 29, 2018
Scarlets forward Tadhg Beirne has a competition-high 14 turnovers this season while Levani Botia leads the way for La Rochelle with eight.
This will be the first time the clubs have met, with 141 of Scarlets’ 143 European games having been in the European Cup.
Scarlets have won their last four matches, as many as they had managed in 21 previous games and their best winning run since winning seven on the trot on the way to the 2007 semi-finals.
15. Leigh Halfpenny; 14. Paul Asquith, 13. Scott Williams, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 11. Steff Evans; 10. Rhys Patchell, 9. Gareth Davies; 1. Rob Evans, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Samson Lee, 4. Tadhg Beirne, 5. David Bulbring, 6. Aaron Shingler, 7. James Davies, 8. John Barclay
16. Ryan Elias, 17. Dylan Evans, 18. Werner Kruger, 19. Lewis Rawlins, 20. Will Boyde, 21. Aled Davies, 22. Dan Jones, 23. Joshua Macleod
La Rochelle line-up
15. Charles Bouldoire; 14. Vincent Rattez, 13. Arthur Retiere, 12. Pierre Aguillon, 11. Steve Barry; 10. Jérémy Sinzelle, 9. Alexi Bales; 1. Dany Priso, 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Romain Sazy, 5. Mathieu Tanguy, 6. Botia Veivuke, 7. Zeno Kieft, 8. Afa Amosa
16. Hikairo Forbes, 17. Kamaliele Tufele, 18. Mohamed Boughanmi, 19. Gregory Lamboley, 20. Kevin Gourdon, 21. Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22. Benjamin Noble, 23. Pierre Boudehent
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Scarlets reached the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2007 with a fiercely-contested 29-17 triumph over La Rochelle in front of a capacity crowd at the Parc y Scarlets on Good Friday.
- Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams claimed second-half tries for the Scarlets in Llanelli, while the ever-reliable Leigh Halfpenny contributed 19 points from the kicking tee as the hosts made La Rochelle pay for their indiscipline.
- In a frantic first half La Rochelle struggled to stay on the right side of the law at the breakdown, allowing the metronomic boot of Halfpenny to chip away at the scoreboard as the Wales full-back kicked all four of his penalty kicks.
- Despite their indifference in defence, TOP 14 heavyweights La Rochelle kept the game in the balance with captain Romain Sazy seizing an opportunistic try in the right corner, before Alexi Bales’ three-pointer on the cusp of half-time trimmed the deficit to just two points.
- Halfpenny restored a five-point advantage for Scarlets shortly after the restart, before fly-half Patchell slid home an excellent finish to claim a first try for the home side on the hour after a fine Hadleigh Parkes break in midfield.
- Scarlets, though, only had a 12-point buffer and when replacement forward Will Boyde was sent to the sin bin, La Rochelle hopes were rejuvenated with 10 minutes to play, only for Wales centre Williams to pierce the visitors’ defence and race home a superb second try.
- Halfpenny added another conversion to take his tally in the Champions Cup to 12 from 12, before replacement winger Pierre Boudehent added what was scant consolation for La Rochelle with a breakaway try, but it could not stop the Scarlets party.
- Success means Scarlets face a semi-final trip to either Leinster Rugby at the Aviva Stadium or Saracens at the Ricoh Arena depending on the result of their Easter Sunday showdown.