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Scarlets on red alert for semis as La Rochelle hit by injuries


By Duncan Bech

The Scarlets' hopes of reaching the Champions Cup semi-finals have improved after opponents La Rochelle - winners of Ulster's pool - suffered a double injury blow ahead of today's showdown at Parc y Scarlets (5.30pm).

New Zealand back row Victor Vito has been struck by a calf injury while France centre Geoffrey Doumayrou has been ruled out with a knee problem.

The Scarlets, meanwhile, are selecting from strength with Rhys Patchell picked ahead of fly-half Dan Jones, who was preferred for the pool wins over Bath and Toulon.

Coach Wayne Pivac has also recalled those internationals rested for last weekend's defeat at Munster - Leigh Halfpenny, Hadleigh Parkes, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, John Barclay and skipper Ken Owens.

Pivac is now hoping for good news on the weather front as his team prepare to play their first major knockout match since 2007 in a showdown between sides with a swashbuckling approach.

"We would love the rain to stay away and be able to go out and play our natural game," Pivac said.

"I know La Rochelle will play their natural game, they have done it in every game that we have looked at this year. That would be exciting.

"We just have to make sure we get our game management right if the conditions are wet," he added.

Newcastle continue their push for silverware when they host French Top 14 strugglers Brive in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup tonight (8.00pm).

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