European Rugby Champions Cup: Scarlets 13-14 Racing 92
|European Rugby Champions Cup: Scarlets v Racing 92|
|Scarlets (3) 13|
|Tries: Davies, McNicholl Pen: Halfpenny|
|Racing 92 (7) 14|
|Tries: Chouzenoux, Penalty Try Con: Russell|
A late penalty try saw Scarlets' European Champions Cup campaign get off to a losing start against Racing 92.
Baptiste Chouzenoux scored for the French side on the stroke of half-time, with a Leigh Halfpenny penalty all Scarlets had to show for their efforts.
Scarlets upped the tempo and two quick tries from Gareth Davies and Johnny McNicholl looked enough for the win.
But referee Matthew Carley punished them with minutes left for collapsing the maul, handing Racing victory.
The result mirrored last season's opening cup game, when Scarlets lost by a point away to Toulon.
Billed as a glamour tie with Joe Rokocoko, Simon Zebo and Finn Russell on show, the first half proved anything but with both sides seemingly unwilling to play much rugby from their own half.
Swirling wind and rain brought by Storm Callum did not help matters, with greasy conditions resulting in multiple handling errors.
Scarlets summer signing Angus O'Brien, standing in for a concussed Rhys Patchell, had a nervy start with two knock-ons, but the former Dragons player appeared to settle as the half went on.
The visitors' scrum came under early pressure, with Halfpenny slotting over a resulting penalty.
Outside-half Russell appeared to break the deadlock for Racing following a spell of pressure in the Scarlets twenty-two, but a knock-on in the build-up cut short any try celebrations.
Racing did score when flanker Chouzenoux latched on to a pass from scrum-half Xavier Chauveau to run in the try. Russell slotted over the conversion.
O'Brien was injured in the build-up and was replaced by Dan Jones at half time. Second row Jake Ball also did not return after the break after picking up a dead leg.
Scarlets, who had the upper hand in the scrum, took advantage of a penalty on the 51st minute, with scrum-half Davies crossing the whitewash on the blindside. Halfpenny failed to add the extras from the touchline.
The home side kept applying the pressure and were rewarded with a second try minutes later when wing McNicholl won a race to ground a grubber kick from Jonathan Davies. Halfpenny was again uncharacteristically off target with an easier conversion, something that would prove costly.
There was to be drama in the final five minutes when referee Carley awarded Racing a penalty try for collapsing the maul and sent scrum-half Gareth Davies to the sin bin.
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac told BBC Radio Wales: "We didn't play well enough. We gave away too many unforced errors in the first half and the possession and territory stats were very poor.
"I thought we defended very well for the amount of possession they had but we were disappointed to let them get that one on the stroke of half-time.
"Hopefully we will improve next week. We need to get back on the horse. I think it's a six day turnaround so we need to win to get back in the race."
Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny; Johnny McNicholl, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans; Angus O'Brien, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (capt), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, David Bulbring, Ed Kennedy, Will Boyde, Blade Thomson
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rob Evans, Werner Kruger, Tom Price, Josh Macleod, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Dan Jones, Paul Asquith
Racing 92: Ben Volavola; Joe Rokocoko, Olivier Klemenczak, Henry Chavancy (capt), Simon Zebo; Finn Russell, Xavier Chauveau; Guram Gogichashvili, Camille Chat, Cedate Gomes Sa, Donnacha Ryan, Leone Nakarawa, Wenceslas Lauret, Antoine Classen
Replacements: Teddy Baubigny, Eddy Ben Arous, Census Johnston, Dominic Bird, Boris Palu, Teddy Iribaren, Raphael Lagarde, Virimi Vakatawa
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce, Jonathan Healy (RFU)
TMO: Simon Mills (RFU)
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