Wayne Pivac has told his Scarlets players that another European adventure this season must include a better start than a year ago.
The region begin their Heineken Champions campaign at home to Racing 92 on Saturday, fresh from their 20-17 victory over the Ospreys last weekend.
A years ago, Pivac’s team suffered back-to-back defeats at the start of Europe’s pool stages – losing narrowly at Toulon and then at home to Bath, before going on to win five straight matches on their way to the semi-final where they eventually fell to champions Leinster.
One of those group stage victories was a thumping 35-17 triumph away at Bath, arguably the team’s best performance of the season.
But the New Zealander – in his final season at Parc Y Scarlets before he becomes Wales coach – says: “This time last year we didn’t start too well and we know if we want to do well in this season’s Champions Cup, then we can’t repeat that.
“I think the win over the Ospreys couldn’t have been a better game for us leading in to what’s going to be an even bigger challenge against Racing.
“We now turn our focus to Europe and get excited by it,” added Pivac whose team’s first away date is a visit to struggling Leicester in round two.
Tries from Johnny McNicholl and Rhys Patchell gave the Scarlets the win over their rivals at Llanelli on Saturday.
The Scarlets were outscored three tries to two by the Ospreys, but still came out on top.
Analysing his team’s performance, Pivac added: “We were really happy with the start we made. We defended everything the Ospreys threw at us in the first 20 minutes.
“We saw some very good defence in our 22. We had a lot of energy and when we got our main opportunity, we converted that.
“We were disappointed with the second twenty of the first half and we spoke about that at half time. There was no excuse for the gaping holes in defence and we let in a couple of tries that should have been avoided.
“From our point of view it was making sure we started the second half very well, like we did the first, and making sure we didn’t have that lull. We bought the energy and passion the game deserved.
“We’re happy to get that result and after last week it was a massive step up. The Ospreys are a totally different side. Allen Clarke has done a good job and they’re heading in the right direction.
“Hopefully we are as well and it was a much-improved performance against a much stiffer test than we’ve had. I think that puts us in a great position for Racing.”
The Scarlets could be without centre Kieron Fonotia for Saturday’s European tie after the centre was cited following a challenge on George North during the Ospreys game.
Fonotia, who was up against his former club, will appear before a disciplinary tribunal in Dublin on Tuesday.
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