Pro12 is catching English and French leagues, says Scarlets boss Pivac

Scarlets v Saracens
Saracens wing Chris Ashton breaks through to score the third Saracens try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Scarlets and Saracens at Parc y Scarlets
European Champions Cup: Sale Sharks v Scarlets
Date: Saturday, 21 January Venue: A J Bell Stadium, Salford Kick-off: 15.15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac believes the gulf in quality is closing between Pro12 teams and those in the English and French leagues.

Chris Ashton's last-minute try denied Scarlets a memorable win against Champions Cup holders Saracens.

English and French sides have won Europe's top-tier competition in each of the last four seasons.

"It's good to see that gap appears to be closing," Pivac said after a campaign in which his side beat Toulon.

He added: "There are a lot of good performances from the Pro12 sides and we've put our hands up as well."

Scarlets' 22-22 draw against Saracens ended the Welsh region's slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Pivac's men were dealt a tough hand at the start of the campaign, having been drawn against current holders Saracens, the winners of the three previous tournaments Toulon and English Premiership side Sale.

The New Zealander has been encouraged by the efforts of the Llanelli-based region, who end their European campaign with a trip to Sale on Saturday.

"It's a pretty tough pool, but certainly to beat Toulon and to have this game run so close and end up with a draw [against Saracens] shows we've made a lot of improvements," Pivac added.

"We've still got to keep improving.

"We're still a point away from the top four in the Pro12 so that's obviously a big goal for us, to make the play-offs.

"The hardest thing for us is getting into those play-offs. If we can get there, on our day, we can compete with most sides."

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