Pro12: Europe's top flight drives Scarlets captain Owens

Ken Owens celebrates his try against Dragons
Ken Owens celebrates his try against Dragons

Wales hooker Ken Owens says he is motivated by fear of becoming the first Scarlets captain to fail to qualify for Europe's top-tier competition.

Scarlets are sixth in the Pro12 after a 29-10 win over Newport Gwent Dragons - the last automatic qualifying spot.

"It's something I've had on my mind, not to be the first Scarlets skipper not to make Europe," he said.

And Owens defended referee George Clancy's decision to award a try when he appeared to interfere with play.

Judgement Day graphic

Dragons defenders complained they were impeded by Clancy as Owens broke clear for the Scarlets' opening try.

The player saw nothing wrong with his score.

"He [Clancy] would've made the decision himself," said Owens.

"I thought George Clancy had a great game, let the game flow and, to his credit, didn't go to the TMO [television match official] and made decisions on their merit."

The try in the 37th-minute sparked a five-minute purple patch either side of half-time which saw the Scarlets turn a 10-3 deficit into a 24-10 lead.

The result was never in doubt after that, and means Scarlets now have control of their own destiny with two games remaining.

Ken Owens runs into George Clancy on the way to his try
Ken Owens collides with referee George Clancy on his way to scoring for Scarlets against Dragons

"I've been feeling that pressure, feeling those nerves, and luckily the boys have fronted up week in, week out," added Owens.

"It's in our hands now and we owe it to ourselves and to the region as a whole to qualify for that top-tier competition."

Scarlets - and their former incarnation Llanelli - have played in every premier European tournament since it was launched in 1995-96.

Wins in two remaining games against Cardiff Blues at Parc y Scarlets and at Treviso would guarantee that top-six finish.

"We win both and we're in the top six, which is our goal at the moment," added Owens.

"We want to finish on a positive and build for next season."