Belfast Telegraph

Scarlets desperate to prove they're not the weakest link

By Ali Gordon

Scarlets prop Rob Evans is adamant that Ulster are not as good as their 24-9 win over the team from west Wales last weekend suggests.

Neil Doak's men thrashed the Scarlets at Kingspan but Evans insists the Welsh team are "hungry" to prove in Sunday's repeat clash that they're not the easiest team in Pool Three of the European Rugby Champions Cup, despite sitting bottom of the group.

"I don't think they (Ulster) were four tries better than us. The boys just want to turn up for ourselves and for the coaches. We're lucky that we have the opportunity to put it right.

"Ulster were strong and they are a good, heavy pack. I thought we did pretty well but we want to pick it up a gear this week. We want to get some ball and play off that," said the 22-year-old.

At the half-way stage of the pool matches, the Scarlets are just two points behind third- placed Ulster and five points behind Toulon, who top Pool Three on nine points.

After Leicester stunned defending champions Toulon last Sunday with a 25-21 defeat, the qualifying group was thrown wide open and Evans is urging fans not to underestimate the ability of the Llanelli outfit.

"There is not really an easy game in this group. It's a pretty mental group with four good teams but we all still have a chance of getting through.

"We are, obviously, massively targeting Sunday's game and if we do win that then it puts us back in the race.

"As a pack we have been going well over the past couple of months but that was not our best performance in Belfast.

"We pride ourselves on our set-piece here. We are definitely good enough to play the best packs, but we were off the mark a little bit last weekend.

"The boys are hungry to put it right."

Ulster revived their chances of qualification for the knock-out stages with their bonus point win over the Scarlets but both teams' campaign dreams remain hanging by a thread.

"We have looked back at the clips and the boys are hungry to put it right. A lot of it was down to our mistakes. We made wrong decisions at wrong times and Ulster capitalised," said the Wales prospect.

Evans will also be feeling the added pressure of trying to impress coach Wayne Pivac as he tries to retain his position as a regular starter for the Scarlets. He said: "This season I've had a bit more game time and I'm enjoying it. It could be better but I'm happy with my progress.

"Regular rugby has helped (Evans start for the Scarlets), you can't impress as much when you are coming off the bench.

"Firstly, you haven't got as much time on the field. Secondly, it's harder to get into the game. You can go out and try to make a special impression - like last season - but then you can end up making silly mistakes and your discipline lets you down.

"At the moment it is about working hard and trying to impress."

Discipline has proved a major weakness for the Scarlets this season. They had two players, full-back Liam Williams and flanker James Davies, sin-binned last weekend and both Evans and Williams know that there is no room for error on Sunday if they are to overcome Ulster.

"We've just got to make sure that we cut those things out," insisted Williams, who featured in Wales' autumn international series.

"The best thing is that we have a chance to put things right this weekend - normally you have to wait six to eight months to play the same team.

"The boys are raring to go."

Toulon players Martin Castrogiovanni and Delon Armitage have received misconduct complaints for their behaviour during last Sunday's Champions Cup defeat by Leicester.

European Professional Club Rugby launched an investigation into the events at Welford Road and has decided the pair must face a three-man independent disciplinary committee in London on Wednesday.

Castrogiovanni sought out journalists after the match and directed an expletive-ridden tirade at Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill, who had claimed the former Italy prop swapped the Tigers for Toulon in 2013 for financial reasons.

Armitage, Toulon's English full-back who has a chequered disciplinary history, is also alleged to have used offensive language at spectators at Welford Road.

"The misconduct complaint against Castrogiovanni is that he made a number of comments to the media in which he attacked, disparaged, criticised, damaged and/or brought into disrepute Cockerill, EPCR, the Champions Cup and the sport," an EPCR statement.

"The misconduct complaint against Armitage is that during and after the match he is alleged to have conducted himself in an unsportsmanlike manner by making a number of comments to, or within earshot of, spectators using foul and abusive language and may have brought the sport into disrepute."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph