Ken Owens: Racing 92 Europe's best team, says Scarlets skipper

By Richard WilliamsBBC Wales Sport at Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Dan Carter
All Black Dan Carter played at centre on Sunday, rather than in his usual fly-half role

Racing 92 are the best team in Europe, says Scarlets captain Ken Owens.

Owens' team suffered a record European defeat as they conceded nine tries in a 64-14 Champions Cup hammering in Paris.

With New Zealand's World Rugby player of the year Dan Carter kicking six goals and organising the demolition, Wales international Owens believes Racing will be hard to beat.

"It's difficult to stop a side like Racing - they've got the complete package," said Owens.

"They are the best team in Europe.

"Saracens in England are up there, playing very good stuff. But I think Racing, with the squad they've got, the calibre of player and the different variations in their game, have the edge."

Racing are 'getting better'

Racing beat Scarlets 29-12 in Llanelli in November, before World Cup winner Carter made his debut for the French club.

"They had a different mindset when we played them before - they were happy to live off our mistakes," Owens continued.

"But today they upped the tempo and brought the game to us and they have definitely improved.

"Carter coming in, plenty of experience, a ball-player, really organising the backs - he's made a big difference to their back line.

"He allows players to play off him and his organisation - you could just hear him talking - he's a huge asset to any team. He's the best player in the world and it shows."

Scarlets have conceded 160 points over five Champions Cup fixtures so far in Pool Three

Ill-discipline proves costly

However, head coach Wayne Pivac was not happy with his team's discipline at Stade Yves du Manoir.

Scarlets were under pressure, but had stood up to Racing's power before the Welsh region's second row Maselino Paulino was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Yannick Nyanga deep in Racing territory.

And within five minutes, Scarlets wing DTH van der Merwe followed the Samoan into the sin-bin for a tip tackle.

At that point the score was 10-0, but by the time Van der Merwe returned, Scarlets trailed 31-0.

"Twenty-one points came pretty quickly," Pivac said. "Look, they are a class side when it's 15 on 15, let alone taking one and then two players off, so that did hurt us.

"So I was disappointed with our discipline in that early part of the game."

Scarlets have now lost all five of their European Champions Cup matches this season - with the visit of Northampton Saints still to come.