"Edinburgh game is like a cup final"

4 Apr 2019
"Edinburgh game is like a cup final"

The Scarlets have to adopt cup rugby mentality as they prepare for Saturday’s crunch Guinness PRO14 meeting with Edinburgh in Llanelli (6.45pm kick-off).

That’s the message from captain Ken Owens ahead of a match that could decide whether the 2017 champions reach the play-offs for a third successive season.

With three matches of the regular season remaining, Wayne Pivac’s side sit fifth in the Conference B standings, two points behind Edinburgh.

But plenty could change over the coming weeks with a number of the play-off protagonists going up against each other.

“For whatever reason we were not at the races in our last game and were put to the sword by a very good Blues outfit,” said the Wales hooker.

“Since then we have done a lot of soul searching and it is cup final rugby now, every game is a cup game.

“We know how good Edinburgh are, they had a good result against Leinster in their last game in the competition and were unlucky to miss out against Munster in Europe last weekend, so it’s going to be a tough game.”

The Scarlets are set to welcome back their Grand Slam contingent for Saturday’s round 19 encounter and with matches to come against Zebre at Parc y Scarlets and the Dragons at the Principality Stadium on Judgement Day, the squad remain positive about making the end-of-season shoot-out.

“Our last three games are in Wales, we don’t have any travelling which means longer training weeks to prepare and get things right,” added Owens.

“There will be no excuses from that point of view. It’s all down to us now, preparing well and delivering performances that are acceptable and will get us results.

“We’ve had a couple of boys returning from injury in recent weeks which has strengthened us.

“Hopefully over the next few games we can get a consistent 23 and a starting XV out week to week which will help with the continuity in the way we play.”

With the Scarlets having been finalists in Dublin for the past two seasons, an injury-hit 2018-19 has proven a test of squad depth and resolve.

“We’ve set a standard in the last two or three years, and not being in the play-offs is definitely not acceptable,” admitted Owens.

“It was a target at the start of the year, as it always is, to be in knockout rugby.

“In Europe we didn’t manage that, which is disappointing, but in the league, luckily we’re still in the fight.

“It’s about getting into the top three, securing a play-off spot and then it is about what happens on the day. Seasonal form goes out the window.

“We’re still in the mix. We’re positive.”